Res Publica, Book One, Canto the Third212.
The mist had passed. Now I was waking
to my Avalon, aware
I’d left behind my worldly cares
to win this heavenly realm. No taking
of life or breaking of hearts could here
occur; so what had I to fear?
The past was mist. Now I was turning
round my faithful Tug. She sighed
and moaned, she did (as if discerning
my intent), while I began to guide
her back into the misty glare
where waves in tinseled eveningwear
awaited dusk’s bewitching hour . . .
reminding me . . . My wife! How sour
she’ll be! I pictured black stilettos
stepping from her matching black
convertible Beamer.106 She’s early back
from work. The pair of plump palmettos
salute her in the dying rays
of salmon-color light which seem to paint,
by chance, a more authentic layer
upon that pseudo-mission house.
And as – a virtuoso player! –
she chins her diary, my spouse
sifts through her Gucci purse, all rush
and ﬂush and sun-emblazoned blush.
The giant mission bell observes her.
It seems to know what will unnerve her.
For after all that house-key sifting
– a small, askew, white envelope
resides on parquet ﬂoor:
my dear, you’ll ﬁnd these words reviving
if, perchance, your heels have slipped
on this – this note – and you have ﬂipped
and knocked your head, or ripped a nylon
– or worse, that Prada denim skirt
you bought in Paris. I see no smile on
your face. Come on. It’s joy, not hurt,
I wish to offer now: You’re free!
Yes, free! That oath you gave to me
I cancel; and grant you, with this letter,
rights to men who suit you better!
‘He always does this when I need – ’ O
how upset she’d be without
her handbag spouse to tote about!
My cummerbund, my white tuxedo,
they’d have to ﬁt another mate
– and soon! – or else she’d activate
those deeply diagnostic articles
found in all the Women’s press,
the ones which scan your every particle
for tell-tale signs of grief or stress.
To go alone? She might as well
not shave her underarms and smell
of ﬁsh! This thought would deeply vex her.
Her phone is voice-dialed: ‘Dexter! Dexter!’
But let us leave her to her scheming,
my gentle reader. This sudden ﬂash
of marital thoughts came from my rash
(but ﬁrm) and contradictory-seeming
retreat. I’d turned back home, back west,
as if relinquishing my quest
to claim that resolute and armor-
plated isle. Okay, if she’s
afraid, poor island, I shall not harm her . . .
But then – with frothy surge of sea
I spun the wheel round! I’d say
we were about a mile away
when once again her rocks were glimmering
– like foam upon a milk-pot simmering –
straight before our eyes. A minute’s
rest I granted faithful Tug,
then squeezed her wheel, a farewell hug.
The Eastern sky now held within it
fragments of a moon whose case
had cracked and now it leaked through space
a stream of pale magenta vapors.
It felt unreal. A sailor in a dream!
My boat made out of folded paper!
Goodbye dear Tug! So frail she seemed.
It pained to think of her demise,
but it was easy to surmise
I’d die as well – and thus, undaunted,
I chose for two the fate one wanted.
106 Fashionable nickname of cars made by the German-based Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW).