restricted access Them, Crying
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Has turned ice cold, drawn from bird eggs and thunderstruck rodents, Dusty pine needles, blunt stones, horse dung, leafmold, But mainly, now, from waiting-all the time a symbol ofevilNot for food, but for the first man to walk by the gentle river: Minute by minute the head becomes more poisonous and poised. Here in the wheel is the place to wait, with the eyes unclosable, Unanswerable, the tongue occasionally listening, this time No place in the body desiring to burn the tail away or to warn, But only to pass on, handless, what yet may be transferred In a sudden giving-withdrawing move, like a county judge striking a match. Them) Crying In the well-fed cage-sound ofdiesels, Here, in the cab's boxed wind, He is called to by something beyond His life. In the sun's long haul Oflight, each week at this place, He sings to the truck's eight wheels But at night it is worse than useless: The great building shoots and holds Its rays, and he hears, through the engine, Through the killed words ofhis own song, Them: them crying. Unmarried, unchildlike, Half-bearded and foul-mouthed, he feels His hands lean away to the right And bear the truck spiraling down To the four streets going around And around and around the hospital. He sits, and the voices are louder, An awakening, part-song sound Calling anyone out ofthe life He thought he led: a sound less than twelve Years old, which wakes to the less-than-nothing Ofa bent glass straw in a glass Them) Crying / 207 With small sleepless bubbles stuck to it: Which feels a new mouth sewn shut In a small body's back or its side And would free some angelic voice From the black crimped thread, The snipped cat-whiskers ofa woundA sound that can find no way To attack the huge, orderly flowers. At one-thirty he is drawn in, Drawn in, drawn in and in, Listening, through dozens ofBakelite floors And walls, brogan-stepping along Through green-tiled nightlighted rooms Where implements bake in glass cases, Through halls full ofcloudy test tubes, Up and down self-service elevators That open both sides at once, Through closets oflubricants, Through a black beehive oftyped labels, Through intimate theatres Scrubbed down with Lysol and salt, Through a sordid district ofpails, Until, on the third floor rear Ofthe donated Southeast Wing, He comes on a man holding wrongly A doll with feigning-closed eyes, And a fat woman, hat in her lap, Has crashed through a chairback to sleep. Unbelonging, he circles their circle; Then, as though a stitch broke In his stomach, he wheels and goes through The double-frosted warning-marked door. Twelve parents at bay intone In the brain waves that wash around heroes: Come) stripped to your T-shirt sleeves) YOur coveralls) bluejeans) or chains) Buckdancer's Choice / 208 Your helmets or thickening haircuts) Your white coats) your rock-poundingforeheads) For our children lie there beyond us In the still) foreign city ofpain Singing backward into the world To those neverseen before) Old cool-handed doctors andyoung ones) Cappedgirls bearing vessels ofglucose) Ginger ward boys) pan handlers) technicians) Thieves) nightwalkers) truckers) and drunkards Who must hea1; not listening) them: Them) crying: for they rise only unto Thosefew who transcend themselves) The superhuman tenderness ofstrangers. The Celebration All wheels; a man breathed fire, Exhaling like a blowtorch down the road And burnt the stripper's gown Above her moving-barely feet. A condemned train climbed from the earth Up stilted nightlights woming in a track. I ambled along in that crowd Between the gambling wheels At carnival time with the others Where the dodgem cars shuddered, sparking On grillwire, each in his vehicle half In control, halfhelplessly power-mad As he was in the traffic that brought him. No one blazed at me; then I saw My mother and my father, he leaning On a dog-chewed cane, she wrapped to the nose In the fur ofexhausted weasels. I believed them buried miles back In the country, in the faint sleep The Celebration / 209 ...


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