R.T.S.L.     

  (1917-1977)

As for that other thing
which comes when the eyelid is glazed
and the wax gleam
from the unfurrowed forehead
prevents the last question
from the dry mouth,

whether they open the heart like a shirt
to release a rage of swallows,
whether the brain
is a library for worms,
on the instant of that knowledge
of the moment
when everything became so stiff,

so formal with ironical adieux,
organ and choir
and I must borrow a black tie,
and at what moment in the oration
shall I break down and weep
there was the sound of wings
beating away from the closing cage
of your spirit, your fist unclenching
these pigeons circling serenely
over the page,

and,
as the parentheses lock like a gate
1917 to 1977,
the semi-circles close to form a face,
a world, a wholeness,
an unbreakable O,
and something that once had a fearful name
walks from the thing that used to wear its name,
transparent, exact representative,
so that we can see through it
churches, cars, sunlight
and the Boston Common,
not needing any book.