Photo by Roloff Beny, Ithaca
Photo by Roloff Beny, Ithaca


The blue bay sparkled so bright it must have been a dream
And far below the cars sped successively
Blurred moments through the window

Two strangers came in
A man named Raijn
Could have been Dutch or Delawaran
And a woman dark-clothed dark-haired
Indefinite and grave
Legs long enough to grip a horse's girth
Her hand big-boned as we shook
We said required words and she looked full at me very brave
I added I have to get going
And went out and down to the balcony
Concreted San Leandro
What was silent behind the window howled like a war now
The rail was of 5" iron, pedestrian strength

To my right fast coming up the stairs
She saw me and laughed
This might mean something after all
We stood in the sun a while watching the foolish tumult
Then I said, who are you?
Are you Jacqueline Kennedy?
It was the wrong thing
She gave a glance then faced West again
And smiled—you—recognize me?
I've seen pictures I don't know about recognition
Another laugh, far away
I know you worked for a book company
You put out a book on Pushkin
I'd like you to publish a book of poems
You—wrote them?
Do you—have them?
I don't read poems to a freeway
I liked the dust jacket it had plenty of gold
She roused from a sadness
We—keep talking, and as long as we do—
Nothing matters—who are you?
Ray, like the sun
Do you—just write poetry?
No. I dance
She smiled—the king always dances—
She was twelve years old again and a hundred pounds
The imperfect teeth reflected each other in the sunlight like chimes
In a breath she said—how much time?
I knew there wasn't any I said until the ends of heaven
Truth so slight comfort, a force was already taking her
She knew to turn, her driver had blended easily
In the bright noisy sunlight
The black coat whipped and flapped like a sail
As they disappeared down the stairwell

A long journey for you I said to no one
Supposedly we were strangers
But as you drift on West these islands
Will keep arriving...

April 7, 1995

Click below to hear WJ Ray reading
"Envoi" with musical background:

Eleni Karaindrou, Theme from "Ulysses Gaze", Ulysses Gaze, ECM, 1995

or Click here to Download Mp3

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