How Many Roads

by Elizabeth

… must a man walk down?

Phrases for the moment:

  1. … and don’t fall so madly in love with the night that you lose your way! (Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice)
  2. I always play Russian Roulette in my head; it’s seventeen black and twenty-nine red (“A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” Tom Waits)
  3. For the man who is beautiful is beautiful to see / but the good man will at once also beautiful be. (Fragment 50, Sappho)
  4. La lune était sereine et jourait sur les flots. (“Clair de lune,” Victor Hugo)
  5. Le Bonheur a marché côte à côte avec moi. (“Nevermore,” Paul Verlaine)
  6. You’d never know it, but buddy, I’m a kind of poet, and I got a lot of things to say (Johnny Mercer/Frank Sinatra)

————

There was a boy once – his name I have forgotten by now, but it was a good Christian name, I do recall – and this is his story, or some shadow of it. I never did meet him in the flesh, for his story came to me through the whisperings of an acquaintance, but I feel him as strongly set down in my consciousness as any one of my lost loves or childhood friends. If I can do him some small justice in the telling of his story, my heart will be fulfilled, though I must confess that my doubts are severe, for I do not know how any hand, let alone one as weak as my own, can ever be quite lovely enough.

————

Scat! scat! the people flee
a robber at the corner store!
he pulls a gun and waves a sack
(the flighted ones: alack! alack!)
the counter-boy whose nerves are frayed
strikes the tin, a scare parade :
NO SALE NO SALE oh sell the lot!
a robber come to swipe the pot
of copper coins and bottletops :
the radio is buzzing bops
out static FM waves :
sing the blues boy sing the blues . . .
the world broke in dancing shoes :
the churchyard bells are ringing four
the robber walking out the door.

————

The sound of the nighttime alleyway cat is giving her pause, the woman so fat and so gray in the heat of the narrow gray place, beneath the sky, the black-bat sky.

Oh, what if I perish, I’ll die! thinks the woman, I’ll die and I’ll sigh – oh, dying and sighing are scarcely a fate to live or lie by tonight.

The cat moves as a shadow, quick and light, and the woman so gray is crying for fright – above, the stars are rocks in the sky: they might fall upon me! they might, oh, they might!

————

You have not remembered to remember me all this time,
but in your forgetting, my recollection grows all the clearer.

————

I was glad to hear your name in passing on the busy street;
while I walked, the leaves blew to the melodious sound!

————

Bells in the field
Ringing out the yield
Heigh-ho fi-fo
Fum fum fum

O hear the bells bells bells
Fear the bells bells bells
Heigh-ho fi-fo
Fum fum fum

————

Little one, you’ll soon be fine
I’m gonna give this heart of mine
To cure your fears, now wipe your tears
I say, you’ll soon be fine

————

“How was your evening yesterday?”
“Very lousy, as usual.”

————

Mirabel buttoned the top button of her woolen coat and stepped lightly out the door into the falling snow. It was the coldest day of the year and not many people would be about, but the solitude of the occasion was precisely the thing that stirred Mirabel’s heart. She wended down the white road and when a bird flew overhead against the thin grey sky, she would stop, wave a mitten at him, and then continue on her way. The road had a narrow path for walking, for the snow had not fallen too thick through the night, and the narrowness of the path contrasted with the wideness of the sky, but yet they ran parallel, the road and the sky, one always looking at the other and continuing on, on, on.

Mirabel was not aware of the passing of time, only of the heaviness or lightness of her feet, and so long as her boots could carry her one step after another with no pang to the heel, she would proceed with her walking. She did not think any thoughts in particular, but when she passed by a flagpole, she sang a song of her country; and when she passed by a nest in a tree, she sang of a bluebird; and when she passed by a mailbox, she sang of a faraway friend; and so on and so forth in this way. She had a pretty little soprano voice, clear and straight in the winter air. If she did not know the words, she hummed, and her humming was even prettier than her singing, for the sound came from deeper down, and it buzzed with the joy of saying something without ever parting the lips.

————

After giving his heart,
He wanders by the pond
And throws a stone:
Look how it sinks to the depths –
If I stepped, I would fall still faster!

————

Gentle night
Empty swallow’s nest
I gaze long and sigh

————

On the small bank
A girl is smelling flowers
One by one

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