Franz Wright
   THE ONLY ANIMAL

                             

The only animal that commits suicide

went for a walk in the park,

basked on a hard bench

in the first star,

traveled to the edge of space

in an armchair

while company quietly

talked and abruptly

returned,

the room empty.

 

The only animal that cries

that takes off its clothes

and reports to the mirror, the one

and only animal

that brushes its own teethó

 

Somewhere

 

the only animal that smokes a cigarette,

that lies down and flies backward in time,

that rises and walks to a book

and looks up a word

heard the telephone ringing

in the darkness downstairs and decided

to answer no more.

 

And I understand,

too well: how many times

have I made the decision to dwell

from now on

in the hour of my death

(the space I took up here

scarlessly closing like water)

and said Iím never coming back

and yet

 

this morning

I stood once again

in this world, the garden

ark and vacant

tomb of what

I canít imagine,

between twin eternities,

some sort of wings,

more or less equidistantly

exiled from both,

hovering in the dreaming called

being awake, where

You gave me

in secret one thing

to perceive, the

tall blue starry

 

strangeness of being

here at all.

 

You gave us each in secret something to perceive.

 

Furless now, upright, My banished

and experimental

child

 

You said, though your own heart condemn you

 

I do not condemn you.

 

 

 
Listen to F.W. read this poem on NPR
 
Walking to Martha's Vineyard, 2004 [Powell's. amazon]