Wet Casements

from Houseboat Days (1977)

                        When Edward Raban, coming along the passage, walked into the
	                open doorway, he saw that it was raining.  It was not raining much.
	                                                                KAKFA, Wedding Preparations in the Country
	The concept is interesting: to see, as though reflected
	In streaming windowpanes, the look of others through
	Their own eyes.  A digest of their correct impressions of
	Their self-analytical attitudes overlaid by your
	Ghostly transparent face.  You in falbalas
	Of some distant but not too distant era, the cosmetics,
	The shoes perfectly pointed, drifting (how long you
	Have been drifting; how long I have too for that matter)
	Like a bottle-imp toward a surface which can never be approached,
	Never pierced through into timeless energy of a present
	Which would have its own opinions on these matters,
	Are an epistemological snapshot of the processes
	That first mentioned your name at some crowded cocktail
	Party long ago, and someone (not the person addressed)
	Overheard it and carried that name around in his wallet
	For years as the wallet crumbled and bills slid in
	And out of it.  I want that information very much today,

	Can’t have it, and this makes me angry.
	I shall use my anger to build a bridge like that
	Of Avignon, on which people may dance for the feeling
	Of dancing on a bridge.  I shall at last see my complete face
	Reflected not in the water but in the worn stone floor of my bridge.

	I shall keep to myself.
	I shall not repeat others’ comments about me.