After lunch a January sky lowers around us,
a kind of haze that could be ghostly
if I hadn’t seen it so often:
this color, for instance, the purple
grimace of a cloud about to burst.
On television a bleached-blonde
with earrings as large as saucers
interviews an old woman in Dell City, Texas.
This woman makes snowmen from tumbleweeds.
Paints them with aerosol snow, gives them a red hat.
“They’re faithful,” she says, grinning.
“They don’t melt.” Just for the hell of it,
or maybe to annoy me, the girl I’m with pauses
on channel 33, my age, where there’s no station,
only skeins of static. She tells me it’s cosmic
background radiation, photons: remnants of the Big Bang
that never came together. She learned that in college,
in Physics 101, that there’s energy which can’t be lost.
This is meant to amaze me, so for her
I stare hard at it, trying to see something
I recognize. Not a face exactly, but the mood,
a confusion of the ill-shaped and unformed,
a thing forever about to happen.
All right. We’ve been drinking, listening
to the old songs, dancing. Call it self-pity
for thinning hair, indulgent on my part. Or worse,
blame it on a bitter fight with my wife.
Still, there’s this place I’d like to get to,
between the white sweater and the walnut breasts
of the girl I’m with. Not to touch, but to be there,
enclosed. “Come down sweet Jesus, come down to me,”
I’d ask for the strength to refuse.
If she had a reefer we’d smoke it, do something
stupid. I think instead I’ll drive her home
along the Jubilee Blacktop, where the crows perch
like sentinels—no, like crows hungry for a kill.
Maybe I’ll get out and call them and they’ll come down:
black wings and beak, black crooked feet.
Maybe I’ll explode right there, give them a goddamn feast.
So full of me they’ll never fly.