Pardon my injuries
now that you are old––
Forgive me my awkwardnesses
my impatience
and short replies––
I sometimes detect in your face
a puzzled pity for me
your son––
I have never been close to you
––mostly your own fault;
in that I am like you.
It is as though
you looked down from above
at me––not
with what they would describe
as pride but the same
that is in me: a sort
of shame that the world
should see you as I see you,
a somewhat infantile creature––
without subtlety––

And because you are defenseless
I too, horribly
take advantage of you,
(as you of me)
my mother, keep you
the name of protection
when you want so wildly to escape
as I wish also
to escape and leap into chaos
(where Time has
not yet begun)

When Adam died
it came out clearly––
Not what commonly
might have been supposed but
a deamon, fighting for the fire
it needed to breathe
to live again.
A last chance. You
kicked blindly before you
and nearly broke your leg
against the metal––then sank
And that is the horror
of my guilt––and the sweetness
even at this late date
in some kind of acknowledgment

I realize why you wish
to communicate with the dead––
And it is again I
who try to hush you
that you shall not
make a fool of yourself
and have them stare at you
with natural faces––
Trembling, sobbing
and grabbing at the futile hands
till a mind goes sour
watching you––and flies off
sick at the mumbling
from which nothing clearly
is ever spoken––

It not so much frightens
as shames me. I want to protect
you, to spare you the disgrace––
seeing you reach out that way
to self-inflicted emptiness––

As if you were not able
to protect yourself––
and me too––if we did not
have to be so guarded––

Therefore I make this last plea:

Forgive me
I have been a fool––
(and remain a fool)
If you are not already too blind
too deaf, too lost in the past
to know or to care––
I will write a book about you––
making you live (in a book!)
as you still desperately
want to live––
to live always––unforgiving

I'll give you brandy
or wine
whenever I think you need it
(need it!)
because it whips up
your mind and your senses
and brings color to your face
––to enkindle that life
too coarse for the usual,
that sly obscenity
that fertile darkness
in which passion mates––
the lightnings of creation––
and the moon––
"C'est la viellesse
inexorable qu'arrive!"

One would think
you would be reconciled with Time
instead of clawing at Him
that way, terrified
in the night––screaming out
unwilling, unappeased
and without shame––

Might He not take
that wasted carcass, crippled
and deforemed, that ruined face
sightless, deafened––
the color gone––that seems
always listening, watching, waiting
ashamed only
of that single and last

No. Never. Defenseless
still you would keep
every accoutrement
which He has loaned
till it shall be torn from
your grasp, a final grip
from those fingers
which cannot hold a knife
to cut the meat but which
in a hypnotic ecstasy
can so wrench a hand held out
to you that our bones
crack under the unwonted pressure––

-- William Carlos Williams, 1936

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