Last Draft of a Poem for the New Year

The ground and the heavens have their language,
conversing as old friends, and to it I am foreign.

There is no language in which I am able to say
how I am young while I am young,

how I grew tall and never knew the way a man
should be until it is what I had not become.

How to say, these years, they move from masculine
seasons to the bare arms of a girl

whose arms as a woman enclose me; how to say
the white thighs of this woman beside me

as light leaves this sleeping head
were a girl's white thighs together, indifferent

to the marital bed, miscarriages?
The forming of the words fails at its origin.

There is a child stumbling through this day, this day
one must recall, as all, when one

would rather understand his error in the moment,
how to say the city feels smaller, time less distinct,

the trees in motion with their ideas; things
expressed in the spreading of root into earth.

And I am older and not older in speaking
of girls becoming wives, youth forgetting youth

as the melted snows soak into earth and root,
through earth and root conversing in their age.

Two Brothers

like old sailing ships

What is it to say, what is it at all to say,
that you and I were not spared the ashes
and the dust? Alone, we wear them and watch
children play in the shadow of a building;

or talk of the different smells of women
in the city; or join multitudes descending
into the earth, all aware that nothing else
could be, that nothing else would be;

and we are in grief, shot animals whose wounds
do not kill but hinder, the sorrow of our being
in being that which stands alone, what is set apart,
                         defined as crude.

All I say must be all I know, all I know
must be all that was; what was, all I am.

What terrifying knowledge that such little sand
is borrowed from the shore. What is it to say then,
what terrifying knowledge that we go about this on our own.
                         Non sum qualis erum.

You have considered the difficulties?
By the river, a man with his sons --you have considered?

and we lost our way, brother, and he was not there
when we returned, near evening.
Our father died before we learned his language.
You and I, alone at the water, began to gather sand.

We fought with each other, with others, so many
and they too had no fathers, for what it is worth.
And that is not much. It never was. Those of us with
companions learn another sorrow: these bodies

are hounds, these bodies are truly singular.
No matter how we press into our lovers
we do not reach them. From the shore
we saw those many ships, all isolate.

All I have seen must be all that could be seen.
All that could be seen; all that is considered.
You have considered the difficulties?
What loss that we must stand alone,
                         for what we are worth

Non sum qualis erum. Non sum qualis erum

And we have grown older. We have gone our ways.
Down near the shore, by the railroad tracks, I sat
knowing there would be no more trains. That present had
to pass and all I am
is present in its passing,
all I am is what
I was and was not,
and you have gone also;
I saw that woman you married (did you not consider?)
Jeanne? Emma? "Tu mettrais l'univers entier dans ta ruelle...!"
She said nothing to me, for I knew her type well.
Tell her I will not see her again.
Non sum qualis erum. I am what I am to be.
It was a woman who made me undone, emotions
which murdered reason, logical process towards vital purpose.
Tell her I will not see her again.
I sat playing in the dirt at the shore. You never came.
There for years, and our father? He was with me.
And I have grown older. We have gone our ways.

I put him in the earth
when it was time, time
all I am, all I am
what my promise is--
you have considered?
Non sum qualis erum.
     Lay too in earth:
     from there
     every man is friends
     with every man
     through their grief,
     all buildings
     grand architecture,
     and women,
     beautiful things--

Jeanne, Emma, whatever her name may be,

     and I will not be a lesser man


     and I will wear ashes on my head
     and I will wear ashes on my head

Come sit with me by the shore, brother, come sit
all we are is all that was and to be,
all that is that which will


Copyright © 2005 Pietro Aman

Pietro Aman is a twenty-year old American student living in a foreign city. He is one of the few who still takes poetry as a serious art. His wife loves him, as does his mother.