Ralph J. Mills

Winner of the William Carlos Williams Award in 2001

FOR JAMES WRIGHT FROM A DREAM, 1978

                                                         
I
 "How do you know it's right?"
you ask, sitting
heavy-shouldered while I
praise one of your poems
in a dream.
           
       I'm sure,
and say so. We
talk on over coffee
of how the moon
rising
leaves a track to shimmer
along the Lorie—
you trill the r like music—
its long finger of light
reaching beneath
the arch of each stone bridge.

We speak too
about your beloved Max Jacob,
who saw the Lord in visions on his wall.
Strangely, you tell
of reading him at the Chicago Public Library:
"They had two volumes,
in French—"
                       
Then my dream,
spun out, dissolves . . .
 
II

I think of you
at nightfall
gazing into currents of New York traffic—

But it's the Loire, on the black Ohio
where our bones go, and only a single
blue or white wing
lifts aloft
to sail into the trees, banked wildflowers,
and tall grass burning green
across the iron water
ruined lived lie down in and sleep.
 

* * *

From Grasses Standing: Selected Poems. All Rights Reserved.

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