Dos Vidas. Photo by Thomas Kist from the 2006 Arjan Vlakveld film “Rod
McKuen: A Man Alone” for Netherlands Public Television. Photo ©2006,
2007 by Stanyan Audio Video Archives. All Rights Reserved.
A Thought for Today
I glory seeing your reflection coming back to me
from other people's eyes.
ENCOUNTERS / MARCH 31
I'll ring up one day
and you may wonder who I am.
I too might not be quite so sure
if you're the one who smelled like violets
or left my shoulder tattooed with a bite
that took three weeks to go away.
Or the one who, going down the stairs,
turning back long enough to say
Don't call me till after ten o'clock
my mother goes to bed quite early.
Those of us who think that need
and night are both the same
have so many little scraps of paper
stuffed in wallets and tucked up under books
or safely put away in dresser drawers.
Names and numbers scribbled
on the backs of business cards
or finely printed on old matchbook covers.
I never have the guts to thrown them out.
Do you ?
that like a pilgrim
I keep imagining my colony of cards
can one day be called up
to form a fort against the need to walk.
I must remember from now on
to write beside their names thin shoulder blades
or this one had a mole along the left side of her stomach.
Some identifying thing
so when I go to make those calls
I'll know just who I'm calling.
saving little scraps of paper
and knowing they'll remain just that,
not transferred into address books
or indexed in a file,
is a kind of mental masturbation
good to no one.
Not even those of us who think
the inside side of matchbook covers
with a penciled number
is a kind of life insurance
can expect a proper settlement
when the accident
of being with our own selves only
overtakes us in an alleyway
or a bedroom.
-from "In Someone's Shadow," 1968
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