Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Knife and Fork in Chainsong at the Spine
Caroline Blackwood Lowell, Walker Evans, 1973-74
None swims with her and breathes the air.
A mermaid flattens soles and picks a trout,
knife and fork in chainsong at the spine,
weeps white rum undetectable from tears.
She kills more bottles than the ocean sinks,
and serves her winded lovers' bones in brine,
nibbled at recess in the marathon.
You use no scent, dab brow and lash with shoeblack,
willing to face the world without more face.
I've searched the rough black ocean for you,
and saw the turbulence drop dead for you,
always lovely, even for those who had you,
Rough Slitherer in your grotto of haphazard.
Excerpts from Mermaid, Robert Lowell, 1973. The poem is from the collection The Dolphin
where many poems describe his relationship to Caroline.