“Lay on more weight!”
—Giles Cory at Salem
With a dark man in a night dark
as the one that killed him, I kneel
at Randall Jarrell’s grave. We brush away
rained leaves. Broken sky
comes down in drops. The slab has gathered
light from nowhere—we see it float.
It bears us like a raft. I am half adrift
in the nighted world, half weighted here
under the grinding stone my bones to dust.
You would not think books like these heavy,
my yearly output, each in its paper back.
They ruffle on the lectern. Where’s the weight,
you ask. Over my head,
that iron glossary not yet set down,
that unabridgement of the great unspoken—
there’s the infinity that breaks
the pencil’s point in midnight hours.
To my twelve readers and you in your gown
I make no plea guilty or not guilty,
will testify only to the weight of the stones,
the men children books my weighted body
under which I run like cider
under which I am running like a tide.