When I began this poem, 
                                    to see myself 
as a piece of history, having a past 
which shapes, and informs, and thus inevitably   
limits— 
          at first this seemed sufficient, the beginning of   
freedom ... 
                  The way to approach freedom 
was to acknowledge necessity:—   
I sensed I had to become not merely 
a speaker, the “eye,” but a character ... 

And you had to become a character: with a past,   
with a set of internal contradictions and necessities   
which if I could once define, would at least   
begin to release us from each other ... 

But, of course, no such knowledge is possible;—   
as I touch your photographs, they stare back at me   
with the dazzling, impenetrable, glitter of mere life ... 

You stand smiling, at the end of the twenties,   
in a suit, and hat, 
cane and spats, with a collie at your feet,   
happy to be handsome, dashing, elegant:—   

and though I cannot connect this image 
with the end of your life, with the defensive   
gnarled would-be cowboy,—   

you seem happy at that fact, happy 
to be surprising; unknowable; unpossessable ... 

You say it’s what you always understood by freedom. 

 


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