November 25

Brian Blanchfield

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.

"Snowy Car Park" by Andrew Mason was adapted and is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Brian Blanchfield is the author of three books of poetry and prose. For Proxies: Essays Near Knowing, he received a Whiting Award, and his A Several World was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin Award and longlisted for the National Book Award. He lives in Missoula and teaches at the University of Montana.
Originally published:
November 22, 2023


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