Twenty-twenty is the year we’re in.
I’m thinking Nineteen-Thirty-Eight is when
my mother sat for this reflection painted of her
in what I imagine was the quiet din of soft
intrigue surrounding painters in a studio
of the Art Students League, studying
this pretty young art student Alice Blake,
who’d have been on her way to twenty-one.
I’m sixty-eight, and looking at the girl who’ll be
my mother. I wonder if by twenty-one she’d met
my father yet. I doubt it. I’m standing looking
up at her unseeing oil eyes: I’ve spelled for her
my age and stage of having lived now nearly
seventeen full years since she was last alive.
By then she’d been a Kettelhack for seventy
much longer years. The dactylic Kettelhack has
now been left to bring me to my fame, as I wait,
not waiting, to dive into what I have no reason
not to think will be oblivion. I wonder in what
arcane idiom I might spell out my question
to this proto-mother Alice Blake to find out what
if any rules I ought to break before I join her
where the moon presumably don’t shine. Breaking
rules as my last act would be so very fine.