Mary Jo Bang
Ghost and Grays
The women were possessed. Smiling
In an understated manner
That is characteristic of those who sit on sofas.
Who draw them up in front of the frequent spectacle
Of men playing cards with machine guns
On the floor next to them. One guy
In a pastel armchair, an obstinate idealized peach,
Asleep to the eye, but not for nothing was he there.
To keep the peace. To answer a question.
If you touched his arm lightly
His potentially expressive eyes would open
To both renounce sleep, and to announce
A head and hand willingness to flee
The region to get whatever it was you wanted —
If he could grasp it. Something
For the cast-iron stomach? Something to bathe with
That would turn the water an unanswerable blue.
He too was sly. And now he was smiling
At the question that was about to be posed.
And she was looking absent-mindedly
Around as if an unlocked need had suddenly presented itself.
What was there to know, was what she was wondering.
The old error of thinking, the navigation of a globe
Of honesty traded for the latest
And not-yet famous ghost of one’s own ruin.
And what precaution could be taken.
Something separated two moments.
Something became a limited coast against which
One pushed and passed along gazing absently
Into the great difference
Between what you want and what you fear.