What They Talked About and What They Said
Speaking for the world, which seldom knows exactly
what it's talking about,
a disc jockey promised more hits and non-stop music
to a man and a woman and their baby
driving on the first day of their vacation to a church.
Of course a funeral was the only thing they hadn't
thought to pack for.
And what they couldn't talk about? What they'd say
to the mother, whose boy
was the only one not to walk away without a scratch.
So they talked about the weather, the look of the clouds,
the height of the corn,
if they were wrong to bring the baby, if the woman's skirt
was right. The road was
under construction, full of holes and heavy equipment.
"Teach me to operate one of those things," the woman
said of a backhoe, "and
I'll bet I could handle anything, even this." Just then
in the windshield
the sky shorted out, flicking off then suddenly onthere
and gone whatever it was like the next unuttered word.
"An owl," the man said
when he had breath again to speak, and he spoke
of its wingspan and its speed.
"Crow," said the woman, "not as big as it was black."
"And the speed," she said, "was ours."
De Chirico Shaving
In his old age De Chirico so admired
the paintings of his youth that he painted
new paintings of the old ones, smaller
De Chirico's of De Chirico's.
"May I quote you on that?" he would say
to the mirror, making bold flourishes
with his razor, sketching the air
in the manner of Marinetti.
And deep in his own eyes an empty piazza
appears, the colonnade stretching back,
etching bold shadows into which nothing
creeps, a precise nothing, diminishing
in the distance to a single black line.
The train waits, the clock is struck at three.
The lonely figures, minuscule stick people
they too cast shadows in the empty piazza.
High above this Rome of his vision
death's tiny flag is flapping.
Says the ornamental cannon to the oversized
artichoke, "How do you do? How do you do?"
To which the artichoke says nothing, merely
bristling in its armor, merely bristling.