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In memory of John Ashbery

We shared this planet and its
cafeterias with their whirring
noise for some 70 years rare
earths that you explained by
hiding not that either of us was
aware (although we did meet
in the 70’s and then again 20
years later whatever difference
that may make) or had we been
who would have thought it could
go on that long beyond the cherry
season with its supreme indifference.
But there were other events. Now
each year we are fewer and for you
it suddenly stops and the echoes
become another part of our dispensable
selves. So I’m not really surprised
to learn you also said it was always
November my bon mot for the
everlasting weather here.

I open to a random page and
the ushers take their seats. Like
the afternoon the theatre is late
with a quiet winter written on its
frozen doors not even a tree could
slip past this shadow. The tone’s all
wrong but dust strolls and perhaps
now I’ll stay a little longer to absorb
the novelty of your absence admire
the unknowable line between what
is and suddenly isn’t anymore but
it’s not for us to try to map what
has shifted or the shortest distance
between those two points once they
have burst upon us. Who cares what
Mercedes the Imposter said on Serendipity.
The ineffable nods and retreats and
the past prolongs its spell as naturally
as smoke. Like all accomplished magicians
you spoke from the margins and for
you the margins answered back.

Laundry heaves in the wind leaves
scatter like blank sheets. You didn’t
leave very much unwritten.