Written in Albuquerque (Mesa SE), May 2002: addressed to J—. As to Beckett, I meant, in particular, the Beckett of Watt. Published in my books The Closed Shrine and Wings of the Gray Moon, and in the journal Lummox.
The Other Truth
This agony in my lower back
is my trustiest memory of you.
It pounces on me about once a year,
stays maybe two-three days.
Wouldn’t you know it today was the one
I’d scheduled to put clean sheets on the futon,
and I can’t go immediately from standing to squatting
so plotted out a system of gradated platforms
and did the tucking part scooting
my infinitesimal ass along the floor;
it’d probably take Sam Beckett
to describe it in further detail.
Three years ago when I threw the back out
I’d been changing abode for a week,
heavy boxes up and down stairs,
and now was helping you move too.
I started to step up into your Sidekick
and wham, and you could see it,
how fortuitous and how immense,
and your face went to panic,
and I was looking toward you, and saw
not the least flash of concern for me
but all the other truth instantly opened:
your chore day might have to be interrupted,
somebody might actually see us together,
this man in your life was an old man.