Franz Wright

 

WINTER BRANCHES AS TERMINAL SYMPTOMS

Black crayons blindly scribbling, identical name diamond-etched in the blue mirror of oxygen; glass branch conducting, waving at you and only you. Window window in the wall, what’s that crossing the sky without sound? Lone bomber with plenty of fuel but no country to return to. So, a few of the not so meek sheep made it. Well, actually a few guys like big slobbering dogs about to be hanged by their tongues. Now the Commander-in-Chief is really scared, head in his hands, in his underground office, one with a tall empty filing cabinet and ragged gray bucket and mop abandoned in a corner. Elbows planted on his knees, as best he can he sits there at his little wooden desk, a third grader’s from 1961 with the name Barbara minutely scarred in its upper left corner as if it were an interrupted full name and return address. The Commander-in-Chief stares at his shiny black shoes and has the impression they are about four times farther away than they ought to be, and is afraid. The immense woods surrounding his summer camp have suddenly grown dark, and the last of the other boys’ parents came and left hours ago.

 

HOME SOUGHT

For 1 hypodermic syringe with small wings, the ones preferred by the god in his sky-blue hightops. Never used, needless to say. (Well, maybe once at the very most). Enjoys darting from one shadowy spot in the room to another (or was that only in my x-rays), with the glittering, transitionless movements of hummingbirds or electrons. I seem to have lost it—temporarily!—and I am afraid, harshly attributing this new symptom to pre-traumatic stress disorder. Actually that was the name of a dance craze in the early nineteen fifties. See what I mean? Nobody remembers the good things. It’s just textbook chronic momentary insanity, why do you think we’re so competitive with our diagnoses? All the while the poor thing is hovering right above my head, like the representation of a thought. Strangely has made no attempt at escape even though I am standing in front of the high open window, where I can so often be found. Earthly blue and heaven bound. The rest of the time I’m in bed having this black-and-white dream about standing in front of a window, a high open window, I can see it very clearly above my skull, embubbled—a great notion on the part of my double, no doubt, my brother and handicapped shadow, one leg an inch too short: limping, starless wing of my own flesh, come here for a second. Explain to me again the plot of the identical dream we are supposed to be having, in shifts, unpublished to this day, that bright dream in which I am awake.



Franz Wright’s collections of poetry include The Beforelife (2001), God’s Silence (2006), and Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004. He has received a Whiting Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for his poetry. Wright has translated poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke and Rene Char; in 2008 he and his wife, Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright, co-translated a collection by the Belarusian poet Valzhyna MortFactory of Tears.

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