Patrick Bower

after “Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow” by Robert Duncan

As if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
we sat in a broken ring at the foot of the master,

looking up from under brandied eyelids
through a thick stratum of blue smoke

at the overflowing oak bookshelves that towered
like architectures of the mind behind him.

It is a made place that is mine, he whispered
or seemed to whisper as the sun set behind

the Venetian blinds that half-hid the grid of
rippling Victorian window panels. Next to me

a young poet was drawing something in the floor-dust
—a grassy hill? a forest?—I couldn’t focus, leaned closer,

but a disturbance of words within words that is
a field folded unrolled from his breathy syllables

and stoked a kind of chaos in my mind. A cat
turned three times and spilled into a lazy C shape

on the wide floor planks between my feet, a cat
whose secret we see in a children’s game,

and around and around I went, in kind, folding and
unfolding within the haze that hovered in the middle air,

breathed out from Robert Duncan’s lungs,
as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,

a place of first permission. I waited, waited, listened.


Patrick Bower lives in New York City, where he writes copy for a living. His poems have appeared in The Corner Club Press, 805 Lit, Sheila-Na-Gig,, and New York Dreaming.