Monday, August 09, 2004

Olympia, Washington, 1977

This fragile body, rotting in its bones;
The boats, snubbed by their mooring lines,
Tied and subdued on the black water;

The thunder of the travelling swans
The empty factories and scattered piers;
Twilight behind the struggling streetlights;

Slime of mud-flats, the Indian's whiskey-breath,
The echo from the pile-driver, coming back
Over the water and the shivering mud;

White boys with nicotine-yellow teeth, uneasy,
Who cut the shoulders off their tee-shirts,
And fight with the niggers from the mill;

Headlights crossing the stone bridge,
Stone dome of the capitol, salt water running,
Running in veins where the tide-stink ends;

(But the tide-stink never ends) somewhere
Far up the Sound, her Indian fisherman
Listens to a fuzzy radio, and just as she feared,

Doesn't think of her. Olympia, my years
With you have drained away. An ancient
bedspread hung for curtains caught the sun

As it set, and we made love in the golden,
threadbare light, until the night came with the sound
Of the trains, and the boom of foghorns.

We carried our hunger then, as we carry it now
Cradled to our chests, as though without care
We might lose it. How little we knew.

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