Lararium Of the gods, the panoply of them, there is one, a companion to all others, a sense within, the presence of the good, in those I have known, gratitude itself, the murmuring innocence of wonder in the naming of the dead, the list I’ve made and read before sleep, the tutelary gods of the house of my body, those who have done for me some sound good, making their best moments mine, a kindness in the service of that companion presence now before me before sleep— The colonel who saved me from butchery, the teacher who clothed me in dignity for dignity’s sake, the cousin who left his kindness, the acceptance of all things, the writer-mentor who was herself every inspiration, a friend wronged by birth and tormented by the acts of those he rose above. * * * Longing is everywhere, it is itself on its knees, it is here tonight in the arms of an armless body, an unknown lover. I dream of them, the others, they never part, a living vivarium, Apollo’s heart.
Michael Gessner has authored 14 books of poetry and prose. His most recent is Nightshades, (2022). His poems have been included in, or are forthcoming from, Arlington Literary Journal, The French Literary Review, La Citta Immaginaria, North American Review, (finalist for the James Hearst Poetry Award,) and The Wallace Stevens Journal. A voting member of the National Book Critics Circle, his reviews may be found in NAR, Jacket2, The Edgar Allan Poe Review, and The Kenyon Review. For additional information: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/michael-gessner