The Wrong End Of The Rainbow: Charles Wright
It must have been Ischia, Forio d’Ischia.
Or Rome. The Pensione Margutta. Or Naples
Somewhere, on some dark side street in 1959
With What’s-Her-Name, dear golden-haired What’s-Her-Name.
In Florence, in back of S. Maria Novella,
And later wherever the Carabinieri let us lurk.
Milano, with That’s-The-One, two streets from the Bar Giamaica.
Venice and Come-On-Back,
three flights up,
Canal as black as an onyx, and twice as ground down.
Look, we were young then, and the world would sway to our sway.
We were riverrun, we were hawk’s breath.
Heart’s lid, we were center’s heat at the center of things.
Remember us as we were, amigo,
And not as we are, stretched out at the wrong end of the rainbow,
Our feet in the clouds,
our heads in the small, still pulse-pause of age,
Gazing out of some window, still taking it all in,
Our arms around memory,
Her full lips telling us just those things
she thinks we want to hear.
… I heard Charles Wright read this in 2008 at Yale, he has a wonderful voice, warm and beguiling…
I am nothing like the speaker in this poem, but I feel as though I am, or could be. I want to be. I feel as though I’ve felt these things about What’s-His-Name, but, really, I’m at the point in my life where I’m learning these names, not forgetting them. Or does the forgetting start when you play kiss and tell on the playground? That last bit’s probably an American thing. In any case it’s the last names I forget. Young, wanting to be older so that I can want to be younger? That’s the folly of a rainbow.