I am a king’s.
I am afraid I may be
Ilia. I am always aware
of my mother. I am furious
with myself. I am going
to sleep (Suicide Poem).
I am Hermes. I am leading
a quiet life. I am my lover’s
and he desires me.
I am New York City. I am of
this world. I am reminded
of this vestment. I am still
bitter about the last place
we stayed. I am too near
to be dreamt of by him. I am
yours. I argue. I came too late
to the hills: they were swept bare.
I can only say I have waited
for you. I can’t appease
Ashimbabbar, the moon god An.
I can’t break with the Dark One.
I carried statues on the ship.
I catch the movement
of his lips. I come. I come
home from you through the early
light of spring. I come to you with the vertigoes
of the source. I crawl up the couch leg
feeling. I did not know where
you kept your heart.
I died for Beauty—
but was scarce. I don’t want to be
a nun. I drag a boat over the ocean.
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain. I find my love
fishing. I first tasted under Apollo’s lips.
I flee the city, temples. I had eight birds hatcht
in one nest. I had three friends. I have no
embroidered headband. I hear you’ve let go.
I heard a Fly buzz—when I died. I heard my love
was going to Yang-chou. I Korinna am here
to sing the courage. I let the incense grow
cold. I live on this depraved and lonely cliff.
I love and fear him. I loved her
softness, her warm human smell.
I make this dirge for you Miss Mary Binning
I miss you. I make this song sadly
about myself. I remember we went to the hospital
that day. I never believed that in my broken
life. I put out the worship plate. I raise the curtains
and go out. I remember you in young peaches like jade.
I sat before my glass one day. I saw no
Way—The Heavens were stitched. I see a man
who is dull. I see bodies in the morning
kneel. I shall lie hidden in a hut.
I, too, dislike it:
there are things that are
important beyond all this.
I took a piece of the rare
cloth of Ch’i. I was the Moor
Maraima. I who cut off
my sorrows. I will carry
my coat and not put on
my belt. I will make
love. I wish to paint
my eyes. I write
to make you
Autobiography is reprinted with permission from The Kingdom of the Subjunctive (Alice James Books, 2000).