A snow-dirty car, engine on, idles
in front of the house across the street
and the Great Dane, released, squats in the lot,
then runs back onto the porch, head at the door.
The man inside requires care—paramedics
have come twice this week, and the ambulance
is familiar to this window too. The exhaust
curls back over the rear windshield like a lip
in filmic villainy. The bare mountain beyond
is brown and the peaks behind it are white.
One catches the first of the sun from somewhere.
Bernadette Mayer came to Tucson once
and I helped host and when she went back home
she sent me Ethics of Sleep, the tallest
paperback I have of poetry. I have to keep it
with the art. I read her randy poem that nearly
queers Carlton Fisk, his squat and his mitt
she calls her ideal—oh the legs of a catcher—
on the radio. Just this week, before I knew,
before perhaps she died, I shared Memory
with my class, and Midwinter Day. I like
when she remarks, I see what she means,
about the woman in line at the post office
who asks if she’d like feedback on her
dinner party. A book not of Strega and taxis
and Mal Waldron, Lana Turner, but of
beer and pills and diapers and dreams and Lewis.
Her mustache was, I want to say, important,
her fisher’s vest. She favored one side
as most of us will or do. Requiring care
harder than giving it in the beginning. A turn
at poetry she gave others of her own. Helen,
Helen, Helen, Helen, and Helen of Troy.