The Wages of Goodness
The sixties post-office was a honeycomb
of doves, its facade more beautiful
than S. Maria Maggiore—every bird
with its own mail slot!
Something unfinished in that country
was the feathery drift of trees
in distance, awaiting the lost touch
of firmness. That, or pale curls
of moon once a month or so,
almost invisible. That was the territory
of a lost something or other.
Even the crows were on Social Security.
There the secular sought revelation.
A small kettle of vultures
rose over the loblollies,
looking for the Salon La Di Da.
The blinding sunset had been cast aslant,
like the untapped battery
of distant thunder, some sign of potential.
There was a moment in the dark room
when the cold fire flared,
or the match carried to the hurricane
lamp burst into the blue glow
of kerosene. That miserable December,
back at the advent of the sixties,
Father bore the clear font from the closet
and scratched the match with his thumb.
There we sat, dumbfounded
as observers in a de la Tour, waiting
for the darkness to be pushed back,
only to creep forward again, an obituary
before your death had occurred.
William Logan’s most recent book of poetry is Rift of Light (2017); his most recent book of criticism, Broken Ground: Poetry and the Demon of History (2021).