Homeward: For Larry Levis 1946-1996
There's a song in my head tonight
from an old German torch
with the dubious moniker of Lolita.
"My ship's called homeward," she sings,
mein schiff heisst heimweg. I'm reading your poems
about holiness, about space filled by what's
ineffable. And I wonder whether you felt the kick
in your heart coming, just the way the horse in your poem
both feels and doesn't feel the angel in his ear, in his brain.
If, like Van Gogh, your poison was in you
from years and years of absence.
Is that what you died wondering?
But what if your soul is that angel,
not the cast off dress, but the warmth
which filled it. Can you blame me
for wanting your voice in my ear:
listen, here's a story about the mist
in the corner of a field. . .
It hung up front in the Dresden Row Frenchy's,
something seventies in olive polyester,
hip-length jacket double-breasted,
satin lapels. It brought out the man in me.
My friends say I'm a gay man trapped
in a lesbian's body. And that's true enough:
I wear a dress as well as the best of them.
Even so, I'm most at home with those brethren
of the well groomed. It's not pretty: I'm not,
but I dress well and there's an arch to me,
my pelvis, perhaps, a pivot point.
It's not drag, not cliche: I can wear a man's suit
on my woman's frame. On the edge of the flesh,
the body's sudden vapor.