By Lianne Spidel
Paper Hats
for Gerald Stern

I thought of you today, Gerald Stern,
while I made paper hats
with my granddaughters, a project
involving scissors and small sponges
for painting, as well, of course,
as paper, which you said
Galileo compared to the mind.

There was no time for poems, for a walk
to Bickford’s to sip tea. Glitter
glue sparkled on the carpet and noses
needed wiping. The little one,
who loves nakedness, had to be coaxed
again into her shirt and overalls,
to cover her shoulder blades,
which reminded me all morning
of the nubs of wings.

I remembered the squirrel in your poem,
the one you preferred to the paper
mind, because of the children
who ran through this house today,
beautiful and wild, and fell asleep
on the floor, their fair hair
with its darker winter streaks
flung back from their foreheads.
Tonight they pose for their parents
in paper hats tied with leftover
ribbons, and we clap and cheer.

Do I seem to be going on and on?
No offense, but you do that too
at times, and there are other things
you said that I’m sure I understand,
like the pity you feel for poets
in this life, your sympathy for Zane Grey
who gave himself to his passion
for the desert even though his diction
didn’t match his dreams

and most of all how you want
to stamp yourself into the sand,
become a giant angel with footprints
like a bear’s
, and you want him huge,
and you want a child—or two—
to notice and to see you fly.

Rhino, 2005