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Night Air

"If God is Art, then what do we make
of Jasper Johns?" One never knows
what sort of question a patient will pose,

or how exactly one should answer.
Outside the window, snow on snow
began to answer the ground below

with nothing more than foolish questions.
We were no different. I asked again:
"Professor, have we eased the pain?"

Eventually, he'd answer me with:
"Tell me, young man, whom do you love?"
"E," I'd say, "None of the Above,"

and laugh for lack of something more
to add. For days he had played that game,
and day after day I avoided your name

by instinct. I never told him how
we often wear each other's clothes—
we aren't what many presuppose.

Call it an act of omission, my love.
Tonight, while walking to the car,
I said your name to the evening star,

clearly pronouncing the syllables
to see your name dissipate
in the air, evaporate.

Only the night air carries your words
up to the dead (the ancients wrote):
I watched them rise, become remote.



appeared originally in Yale Review
reprinted on Poetry Daily