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THE SELF: A SONNET SEQUENCE / David Young 1 If we are what we see, hear, handle, then I am London now: raintight and chimneypots, shuddering buses, streaky bacon flatblocks, rooks in a queue. Reading your novel, I was a girl who took up living in a barn. Sense-pestered, trailing itself around the world, the self is now and then complete as it locks in to mingle with an afternoon, a page, a person . . . In the Siberian frozen tombs they found wool socks, expressive faces, rugs, fresh leather, a chieftain's arm still glowing with tattoos: what the self freezes, what the self digs up — what do you want to call it, kid? Weather. A city on a page. A mirror. 34 ¦ The Missouri Review Self as imperialist, pushing out his borders? Oh, the ego rides in armor, bellows threats, but his helmet's a pocked kettle, he'll turn tail as soon as he sees the torches of the future, he's far less real than, say, his horse's shoulder. The anarchists he hired are dismantling what's left of his soft palace, heaving chunks into the swift and unbecoming river. A candle: what it means to do is vanish, brightly. The self: what it means to do is make a candle. Something of that kind, and the object — horseshoe, cabbage, poem — is what the self just hoped to run together to and fill: a cup of anonymity. David Young The Missouri Review ¦ 35 Well, no, not run together. Scatter: smoke in its eloquent hoods and cowls. Clouds, their race and rain. We're swarms of funny matter (ice, rust, grasses, moonsparks, puff-paste) longing and fearing to disperse. "Can't get away from you-know-who" (scratched on a mirror), but the eye sees way beyond the eye, and the mooncalf mind sits on its shelf and flies great kites. "After the dancers have left and the grand ballroom is empty, the old beekeeper brings a rustling and humming box; and the band begins to play again, but you've never heard the music." 36 ¦ The Missouri Review David Young My young self comes to see me, fresh and friendly. He is from 1957, and anxious to get back. I think he is just polite about my acting as though we had lots in common. Stands in the doorway, charming but rushed. I'm amazed that I like him so much, like him at all, he has such an air of self-discovery, as if one day to the next he Knows himself, (first love, acting, superficial poems), a life he thinks I'm merely interrupting. I live inside his dream, he inside mine, and we back away from each other, smiling, a couple of meadows, a couple of knives, affection brimming between us as we go. David Young The Missouri Review · 37 Is a pebble. Is a bubble. Drags its little sled through empty saltflats under a cobalt sky of nailed-up stars. Is a lamb with real sharp teeth, a tongue waltzing in a moonlit clearing. Is a donkey, leaning against a mulberry tree in which the silkworms spin their mysteries; hugs itself, hugs itself and cries, a horn full of sparks, a shadow at a keyhole. The critic wanted to enter the very brush-stroke then find the brush, then climb the painter's arm, muscle and vein and nerve to mind and heart: instead he stumbled and then he was falling forever through meaningless words that were falling too in exactly the opposite direction. 38 ¦ The Missouri Review David Young Has its parents strapped on like backpacks, grandparents in a suitcase; its orders are to move the grand piano over a mountain without upsetting the buckets of milk for its children. The house is sheared open by the wrecking ball and there is the bathroom, flashing its mirror, the wallpaper, losing track of its pattern, the chest of drawers where father kept his condoms. Tear rolling down the hill of the corpse's cheek. Big tear that rolls off the stiff blue chin. Things left behind, trashbin and junkyard. Rain won't be different from skin. Eye won't be different from view...


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