Volume 21, Number 2

Breaking In

Filling a page when he might just as well
have filled a page, he likes the raw materials
the ammonia-haunted bowls, expressions the old men shared
among the riggings and the fiscs,
susceptible to prompts, to the motions just behind
the layings-on and arrogance. Verve deepens
in the templates, in the course of vegetables, in every
leisure to know, leaving the closed shops caught
and the keen edge of argument, fingers clearing out
the cache, spilling the ghostly fruit, the ghosts
already gone into the lull on entering, deepening
the whispers in old port and in the dream-soufflés.
He’ll let the barn-mice jig, he thinks, wearing
the scraps of festival, perked and erudite, subverting
the swaggers afterward, the children worrying
their lives, and every awkward emphasis, having
these ermine, egg-white, scarlet points
to get across, and doubling the detachment
when their good fun’s done.

—Robert Lietz