by Stanley Moss
You had almost no time, you were something
not quite penciled in, you were more than darkness
that is shaped by its being and its distance from light.
(To give birth in Spanish is to give to light.)
There was poetry of it:
a word, a letter changed perhaps
or missing and you were gone.
Every word is changed when spoken.
The beauty is you were mine and hers,
not like a house, a bed, a book, or a dog,
unsellable, unreadable, not love, but of love,
an of—with a certain roundness and a speck
that might have become an eye, might have
seen something, anything: light,
Tuscany, Montana, read Homer in Greek—
unnamed of, saved from light and darkness.
Of, I was not told of you until long after,
I would not have handed down that suitcase
to her thought the train window in Florence
had I known. I might have suggested tea
instead of Strega, might have fanned the air.
Fathers can do something. I didn’t ask the right questions.
I did not offer any sacrifice.
I just walked around in my usual fog looking
at pictures of the Virgin impregnated by words.
What if the Virgin Mother miscarried? What if
the Magi arrived with all that myrrh and frankincense
like dinner guests on the wrong everything.
Our Lady embarrassed, straightening up,
Joseph offering them chairs he made and a little wine,
sinners stoned in the street
while John who would have been called Baptist
wept in his mother’s belly.