Sunday, June 18, 2006
By Gjertrud Schnackenberg
Walking home from school one afternoon,
Slightly abstracted, what were you thinking of?
Turks in Vienna? Luther on Christian love?
Or were you with Van Gogh beneath the moon
With candles in his hatband, painting stars
Like singed hairs spinning in a candle flame?
Or giant maps where men take, lose, reclaim
Whole continents with pins? Or burning cars
And watchtowers and army-censored news
In Chile, in the Philippines, in Greece,
Colonels running the universities,
Assasinations, executions, coups —
You walked, and overhead some pipsqueak bird
Flew by and dropped a lot of something that
Splattered, right on the good professor, splat.
Now, on the ancient Rhine, so Herod heard,
The old Germanic chieftains always read
Such droppings as good luck: opening the door,
You bowed to improve my view of what you wore,
So luckily, there on the center of your head.
Man is not a god, that's what you said
After your heart gave out, to comfort me
Who came to comfort you but sobbed to see
Your heartbeat zigzagging on a TV overhead.
You knew the world was in a mess, and so,
By God, were you; and yet I never knew
A man who loved the world as much as you,
And that love was the last thing to let go.
— In Gjertrud Schnackenberg, Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-1992, (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2000), p. 9