That Will Be She Forever

James Arlington Wright (1927 – 1980)

I’ll be damned, you’re a poet. Welcome to hell.

James Wright

Reading a 1979 Inscription
on Belli’s Monument

by James Wright

It is not only the Romans who are gone.
Belli, unhappy a century ago,
Won from the world his fashionable stone.
Where it stands now, he doesn’t even know.
Across the Tiber, near Trastevere,
His top hat teetered on his head with care,
Brushed like a gentleman, he cannot see
The latest Romans who succeed him there.

One of them bravely climbed his pedestal
And sprayed a scarlet MERDA on his shawl.
This afternoon, I pray his hidden grave
Lies nameless somewhere in the hills, while rain
Fusses and frets to rinse away the stain.
Rain might erase when marble cannot save.


The Resurrected

by James Wright

Praying down the gulley,
Slowed by the rainy mire,
I will discern, across the void,
Two flies winding a fire,
And a long thick leaf
Hanging on another,
And a leg of root and a leg
Of bough twining together.

That will be she forever; 
Lightning bugs for eyes,
That see no farther in the dark
Than my own blind eyes;
A limp leaf for a cheek,
Cracking before it slips;
Tendril and twig for ankle bones,
And nothing at all for lips

But the unbodied mark
My mouth makes on the dark.