The Possibilities by Beckian Fritz Goldberg is Purple House Blog’s poem of the month.
In high school I loved reading New American Poets of the 90s. Flipping through it now brings back wonderful memories. This compilation poetry book contains many wonderful poems. This one really spoke to me when I was a teenager because I was struggling with my changing views of the growing world around me. This poems still speaks to me today and shows me just how far I’ve come.
by Beckian Fritz Goldberg
After a wife’s death a man may talk
to his horse with a great tenderness
as if, just this morning, he had tried on
her pink slipper. And if he has no horse
he may crack his window a little
wider when it lightly rains to confirm
the roofs and trees are made
of paper. If there is no rain
he may make himself a meal at midnight,
sweet artichokes and Danish cheese,
a glass of red wine. If there is
no red, then white. He may suck the knife
clean with his tongue. Later
lying awake he may hear the wild lung
of a motorcycle far off on a far road.
If there is no motorcycle, a dog
trying for a syllable in any known
language. Something falling suddenly in
the closet, according to some law.
Nearness in the dark is a kind of beauty
though it is only a lampshade, a shoulder
of the walnut chair. If there is no chair,
then a shelf. A shelf of books with the devil’s
violet fedora tossed on top. Or something
exotic from the sea, manta ray
like the pulse in the ball of his foot.
A man may walk ten steps behind
his life. It may be sorrow or fear.
He may see her back like two doves rushing
up where a boy has flung a handful
of pebbles. If no pebbles, leaves
where a masked prowler hunches, his belt of
lockpicks, his bag of velvet like the one
from which memory snatches. These are
the possibilities, the immaculate
like miracles which are nothing
in themselves, but in this world a sign
of angels, ghosts, supernatural beings
who watch us. Who listen. Who sometimes
helplessly let us stumble on
their pyramids, their crude observatories
or let us, generation after
generation, speak to the broken horse
of the human heart.
Beckian Fritz Goldberg is an English Professor at Arizona State University. She is the author of five volumes of poetry.