Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21: "To the Dead," Frank Bidart, People Who Aren't Here Anymore

To the Dead

by:  Frank Bidart

What I hope (when I hope) is that we'll
see each other again,--

. . . and again reach the VEIN

in which we loved each other . .
It existed. It existed.

There is a NIGHT within the NIGHT,--

. . . for, like the detectives (the Ritz Brothers)
in The Gorilla,

once we'd been battered by the gorilla

we searched the walls, the intricately carved
impenetrable paneling

for a button, lever, latch

that unlocks a secret door that
reveals at last the secret chambers,


(the disenthralling, necessary, dreamed structure
beneath the structure we see,)

that is the HOUSE within the HOUSE . . .

There is a NIGHT within the NIGHT,--

. . . there were (for example) months when I seemed only
to displease, frustrate,

disappoint you--; then, something triggered

a drunk lasting for days, and as you
slowly and shakily sobered up,

sick, throbbing with remorse and self-loathing,

insight like ashes: clung
to; useless; hated . . .

This was the viewing of the power of the waters

while the waters were asleep:--
secrets, histories of loves, betrayals, double-binds

not fit (you thought) for the light of day . . .

There is a NIGHT within the NIGHT,--

. . . for, there at times at night, still we
inhabit the secret place together . . .

Is this wisdom, or self-pity?--

The love I've known is the love of
two people staring

not at each other, but in the same direction.                         


On this big weekend for my daughter, I've been thinking a lot about people who aren't here anymore who would have really loved seeing her in her prom finery.  My sister.  My wife's mother and grandmother.  My dad.  They all would have melted seeing her looking all grown up and beautiful.

I'm not going to get all maudlin here.  I just wish these people could see her today.  I think Bidart has it right in this poem.  Love is not about gazing into each other's eyes with adoration all the time.  It's about people looking at the same thing and loving it together. 

Maybe Saint Marty is being a little bit melancholy.

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