The telephone poles lashed and strobed by an electrical storm
in the bus window, we must’ve been halfway through Uptown
when you clutched at my poncho and said, Bill,
are you seeing how this deluge of photons overwhelms
the tiny cockpit of the eyeball! In this hullabaloo of thunder!
In the damp overthrow of April! You said, And think
how the plains crumple into a pageant of hills
at the feet of our mountains and of our noble woods
with their shotgun shoulders and the labyrinthine city in which
our punk-haired rosebushes are a berserk argument between
the trees and hydrants! You said, Isn’t it all such a wingding!
But I said, In our chintzy country? I said. Here we’re insipid,
eager only for diversions and chic habiliments. I said, We’re daft
and out-of-proportion, vain and cussing each other in traffic
as if the ego is something more substantial than a pesky infection
of the corpus, as if the corpus isn’t only downing its espresso
and everything bagel with cream cheese en route to the office
park of nonexistence. It’s commuting, at least, out of the palace
of our best efforts! you said. You said, At least look how bonny
I am in this skirt the color of a hatchet wound blooming!
You said, Look how the telephone lines droop and festoon
all our avenues, how the rain paratroops totally reckless
out of the cloud! See how it has no religion? How nothing
deters it? But I said, We’re more like the gutter spouts
or drainage grates or the steam rising from asphalt
like end credits after the squall. So, you said, Here’s a rope,
you dolt. Go climb a tree. I knew then I’d deflated you brutishly.
I said, O, please, forgive me! I said, Here’s a bouquet
made of moths ruddied by stoplights, o please forgive me!
Here’s the jamboree of a crosswalk, if you’ll only forgive me!
I said, Here’s the sound like ovation the rain makes on rooftops,
won’t you forgive me? But you didn’t forgive me, cratered
as you were in a rut of futility, so I felt futile too, the steel cranes
unmoving over their worksites, under a serious voltage.
I said, Ain’t this a shame? You said, Ain’t that the way?
And we felt more grown up then than we’d felt before,
more sober and American than we’d ever been before, motoring
along the steep crag of the curbside, a fracture of rivulets
garbling the windows, and I said, Honestly, Amelia,
what is it all these chipper tourists come photographing?
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