The Good Man

For GK

It must have happened, Iorgas, to you –
You found yourself downstairs
one day in a child’s game.
Your playmates were strangers to you,
you just realized, and then realized more –
you weren’t that to them.

That had to have happened, but that’s not my point, which is this –
You must have had, sometime during your games,
or on the way up the staircase, a feeling
to answer the one you’d first felt while you played.
The first was a strangeness
that you were known to these boys.
The answering feeling hinted you’d already met them,
hinted you’d been, before now, alive,
but you didn’t know for sure or when.

That must have happened – didn’t it ever – Iorgas, to you?
A tile from the vault of your infant’s long-lost
came loose and left you somehow with words
to suspect today wasn’t the first day
you’d been in the world, and these older boys
(your mother had said cousins), boys not yourself,
had seen parts of you you’d never know.

Our friendship has grown up, too –
When we first met, we were, of course, strangers,
and you were vague to me time after time.
So, by the time we were friends, we each (am I wrong?)
had to wake to the other, as if meeting just then not as strangers.
Through a clearing the size of an unmoored tile,
I’d glimpsed you, but darkly,
and had but a hint that my wide experience
would be your never-failing kindness and reserve
that no one but no one could miss,
not even, I wish it were so, you –
Iorgas, always yourself.

Marcia Karp

Marcia Karp

Marcia Karp has poems and translations in The Times Literary Supplement, New Ohio Review, Oxford Magazine, Free Inquiry, The Warwick Review, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, Agenda, Literary Imagination, The Guardian, The Republic of Letters, Partisan Review, Penguin Books’ Catullus in English and Petrarch in English; Joining Music with Reason: 34 Poets, British and American, Oxford 2004-2009 (Waywiser); and The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation (Norton).
Marcia Karp

Latest posts by Marcia Karp (see all)

Author: Marcia Karp

Marcia Karp has poems and translations in The Times Literary Supplement, New Ohio Review, Oxford Magazine, Free Inquiry, The Warwick Review, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, Agenda, Literary Imagination, The Guardian, The Republic of Letters, Partisan Review, Penguin Books’ Catullus in English and Petrarch in English; Joining Music with Reason: 34 Poets, British and American, Oxford 2004-2009 (Waywiser); and The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation (Norton).