Reading James Wright’s Last Book

I sit down alone under a tree in the backyard
And read the last poems of James Wright
Afraid for the book to end, I stop a long time
Between each poem, and when I have finished
Two or three, I go back and read them again, aloud,
Letting the voice reveal whatever my eyes had missed
The first time — that harsh, compassionate voice
Defeated beyond defeat, moving tenderly over
The broken landscapes of Italy and grim Ohio.
And what I feel is public loss, part of nature;Like the way we’ll all feel when they tell us
The last Great Blue Whale has sounded for the last time
And the whole sea is empty that day…
“Good-bye to the living place,” he says at the end
of the poem on page 18, “and all I ask it to do
Is to stay alive.” And there, on the clean white space,
An ant climbs up the edge of the book
And enters the page.

2 comments on “Reading James Wright’s Last Book

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