I have been carving a poem from the pink flesh
Of an extinct, unpopular thought by using a word
I do not know — and every time, blood pops up
At the surface, as if in a dream where pieces of paper
Can do what is drawn on them, perfectly.
I begin each morning beseechingly; I want it to be just right.
I am trying not to tell you the story, but let the image unfold.
It is hard, I tell you, old, the word we do not know.
I have been wanting to lay out that poem like a city
With an ancient forum at the center, next to the two widows
Of Roman stone that represent the distance and the future,
When what we do not know is revealed and then we know.
But the word clings to my palette like a mashed bean,
An ugly little landmark near Hangman’s Bluff
Where words are tortured and finally
Put out of their misery on greeting cards or in political speech,
And finally dangled as mangled nouns, now verbs.
I try, instead, to shape the word with my hands
Preferring wet clay on a flying wheel—
Wanting so badly for the poem to write itself
In the bold book and seraph of exquisite script
Godlike, impossible to conjugate or wrangle –
Worshipped like the garter of a movie star
Not a synonym, nor a slow, second meaning
I give you the right word, the word we do not know