Allen Grossman Enough Rain for Agnes Walquist Aleph
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         (five little fits of tears)

We are all given something precious that we lose irrevocably. – Caproni

 

        1


It happened at midnight.
    –    What I possessed and lost
or what I never possessed
and have nonetheless lost,
or what in any case I
was not born possessing
but received from another’s mouth:
    –    a smooth stone
passed in a kiss from the mouth
of a Fate into my open mouth
amidst odors of metal
and slamming doors
at the dark end of a railway car
as the train was leaning
on a curve and slowing
to stop – is lost.  Lost
in that dark! – Dilectissima,
the Fate showed me two ways,
male and female.  Also a third:
Gessert’s midnight path
to the wild iris,
an escaped garden among
thickets of poison oak
where rolls the stony Oregon
and hears no sound
except stone on stone.


        2


What, then, shall I give YOU?
My kiss–stone is lost.
But look!  The vast world,
energetic and empty,
glows in the dark.
On the strip between the road
– gravel or macadam,
or an earthen path
(but in this case gravel)
and the settlement
or the side-hill field or forest
or other tangled right of way
for jews, gypsies, ghosts
(outcasts in any case)
there among weeds
springs up Gessert’s
wild iris tenax, violet or pale yellow,
the bloom 3” to 5” across.
Gessert asks, “How in the world
did they come here?”
Then he says, “If you must
take these iris,
use a shovel.  Root them
in your garden
and let them go to seed.
Gather the seed
in Fall
    –    October or November.
Drive out into the countryside.
Plant the seeds
on any half–sunny,
slightly eroded, roadside bank.


        3


Sow Gessert’s iris, dilectissima,
violet or ghostly yellow,
in the wild, universal garden
named “Shadowy Agnes Walquist,”
her midnight body from which wild iris
and lilies grow.
To whom better entrust
pure loss?
To what breasts other
than the breasts
of Agnes Walquist!
    –    “Agnes! (Can you hear?)
when a man dies,
or a woman dies,
the whole world of which
he is the only subject
dies without residue
(or the whole world of which
she is the only subject
dies without residue).
‘DID I EVER LIVE?
NEVER, NEVER.’
The world of each person,
man or woman,
is a dependency of the world
of another one.
When a man dies or a woman
the reason for confidence
with respect to any world
is diminished.  (Weep!  Weep!)
When the last person but one
dies, the last person,
though he continue to live,
ceases to exist!”
Agnes Walquist sighs.
Then she says,
YES!


        4


In my sleep I say, “Agnes! I will
give you rain from my mystery store
of rain.  The dead have buried
the dead and are forever
burying the dead.
But the dead do not remember
as the living do not know
the heart.”  I wake
in the hour before dawn
to the huge hammer of the rain
(hammer of sex
as the poet makes it)
which thunders enough, enough, enough.
Earth shudders and springs.
The East grows bright.
And Agnes Walquist whispers,
“Thank you.”


        5


Sweet youth, sweet youth
(dilectissime meus)
go!
Punish thy pillow.
Your kiss-stone is among the stones
the stony Oregon rolls
and hears no sound
but stone on stone.
Blond Fate, the honey-blond,
no longer knows which one
is the stone of witness.
What follows is the wearing
out to dust.
The water mill deep down
in ocean grinds out salt
(truth, troth, death).
But sweeter than the body
of a man or a woman
(sweetness of that sweetness,
song of all those songs)
is the midnight garden
of Agnes Walquist.
Her breasts are sweet.
The huge hammer is an ancient memory
of water falling into water.
There is lightning all night
on distant mountains,
strike after strike
(violet, blue, red, ghostly yellow,
indigo).
And along the mountain paths,
asleep or dead,
are sprawled
nocturnal mountaineers.