The summer they produced The Bald Soprano
at the Bread Loaf School of English,
I was a faculty brat.
A line from that play has remained a favorite:
A stone caught fire.
Today that line came true.
It rang in my ears as soon as I saw
the cathedral in flames.
A cathedral in flames?
Hard to believe even when it’s seen.
How much do we believe these days
of images that reach us on a screen?
Most images do reach us on a screen.
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen,
Hart Crane wrote. Aristotle understood
that poetry’s less unlikely than history.
Poetry, which encompasses everything
that might have happened or that still might happen,
can be prophetic. History looks back.
Eventually, I wrote not long ago,
everyone will fall – a safe prediction.
For me today the line came true.
I fell. And it was on a TV screen
in the Emergency Room
where I lay waiting to be wheeled to X-ray
that the image of the flames reached me.