(1926 – 1995)
Mass hysteria, wave after breaking wave
Blueblooded Cantonese upon these shores
Left the gene pool Lux opaque and smoking
With dimestore mutants. One turned up today.
Plum in bloom, pagoda, blue birds, plume of willow-
Almost the replica of a prewar pattern-
The same bearing the gnat sized lovers away,
The old bridge now bent double where her father signals
Feebly, as from flypaper, minding less and less.
Two smaller retainers with lanterns light him home.
Is that a scroll he carries? He must now be immensely
Wise, and have given up earthly attachments, all that.
Soon of these May mornings, rising in mist, he will ask
Only to blend-like ink in flesh. blue anchor
Needled upon drunkenness while its destroyer
Full steam departs, the stigma throbbing, intricate-
Only to blend into a crazing texture.
You are far away. The leaves tell what they tell.
But this lone chipped vessel if it fills,
Fills for you with something warm and clear.
Around its inner horizon the old odd designs
Crowd as before and seem to concentrate on you.
They represent, I fancy, a version of heaven
In its day more trouble to mend than to replace:
Steep roofs aslant, minutely tiled;
Tilted honeycombs, thunderhead blue.
James Merrill 1972