Late June and I swear I saw a car covered in snow
Pass by me while I was out looking for a job today.
Sarah wrote last month to say a student of hers
Is working on an essay about Masaccio's
“Expulsion.” It dives into the old argument
That the realism of the musculature and the use
Of perspective bring dignity to his rendering of the Fall.
Sarah has, for years, been thinking of everyone's slow
Walk away from Paradise. When I look it up, I see
It was only recently restored to its original condition,
To the time before the leaves were added across
Their naked and frightened bodies in the 1670s.
I think of all my friends who tattooed themselves
With electric toothbrushes. It was in June 1964,
In London, that Groucho Marx and his fourth wife,
Eden, first went to the Eliots’ house for dinner.
The story of a crash E. E. Cummings' parents had
In 1926 was in The Times today: “As she steered the car
North toward Mount Chocorua, a southbound
Boston & Maine steam locomotive loomed over
The right side of the car, then cut the Franklin in half,
Killing Edward instantly and throwing Rebecca out
Into the falling snow.” Cummings described this scene
In his Norton lectures at Harvard in 1952: “When two
Brakemen jumped from the halted train, they saw
A woman standing—dazed but erect—beside a mangled
Machine, with blood ‘spouting’ (as the older said to me)
From her head … These men took my 66-year-old mother
By the arms and tried to lead her to a nearby farmhouse;
But she threw them off, strode straight to my father’s body
And directed a group of scared spectators to cover him.
When this had been done (and only then), she let them
Lead her away.” I remember Pat showing up at my place
In the Bronx, still drunk from a bender that took him
To Anchorage and back, rocking back and forth on my sofa
Deep inside his Donegal accent muttering “parts, just parts”
Over and over again, haunted still, eight years after
The towers fell, by the families that came to claim the bodies
He had to guard at the city morgue. I, too, have held
A man for nothing in my arms like Gilgamesh held
Enkindu until maggots started coming out of his nose.
We all have terror of our own we harbour. Most of what
I understand is only half-understood and then only
Understood in my own way. There is no quality control
For knowledge like there is for nail sizes that date back
To the Roman Empire. Where would I be without
The Caledonian tribes of Inchtuthils and the 10-tonne
Hoard of them they buried that once were swords?
A voice from a across the room says, “are you talking
About the guy with the four-wheeler and the dynamite?”
I plead with the universe to cease and take a position.
Perhaps I’ll find the death I’m looking for.
Not all knowledge is knowledge modified.
Some funny things have been spoken and done.
But not all great things are good or bad or true
As we learn to love the horror of our illusions.
Words: Aaron Fagan
Artwork: Fall, 1963 by Bridget Riley