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I Sing The Body Electric

Written by: Philip Levine | Biography
 People sit numbly at the counter 
waiting for breakfast or service.
Today it's Hartford, Connecticut more than twenty-five years after the last death of Wallace Stevens.
I have come in out of the cold and wind of a Sunday morning of early March, and I seem to be crying, but I'm only freezing and unpeeled.
The waitress brings me hot tea in a cracked cup, and soon it's all over my paper, and so she refills it.
I read slowly in The New York Times that poems are dying in Iowa, Missoula, on the outskirts of Reno, in the shopping galleries of Houston.
We should all go to the grave of the unknown poet while the rain streaks our notebooks or stand for hours in the freezing winds off the lost books of our fathers or at least until we can no longer hold our pencils.
Men keep coming in and going out, and two of them recall the great dirty fights between Willy Pep and Sandy Sadler, between little white perfection and death in red plaid trunks.
I want to tell them I saw the last fight, I rode out to Yankee Stadium with two deserters from the French Army of Indochina and back with a drunken priest and both ways the whole train smelled of piss and vomit, but no one would believe me.
Those are the true legends better left to die.
In my black rain coat I go back out into the gray morning and dare the cars on North Indemnity Boulevard to hit me, but no one wants trouble at this hour.
I have crossed a continent to bring these citizens the poems of the snowy mountains, of the forges of hopelessness, of the survivors of wars they never heard of and won't believe.
Nothing is alive in this tunnel of winds of the end of winter except the last raging of winter, the cats peering smugly from the homes of strangers, and the great stunned sky slowly settling like a dark cloud lined only with smaller dark clouds.



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