1. Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York, Winter 1980

That it had grown dark as I sat there, I can’t say I noticed. I can’t say it came as any surprise. A certain stillness in the air alerts you to its imminence, its first immaterial waves. Don’t you think? It seems that way to me. Which should go without saying, I suppose. I’m the only one writing this, as far as I know. In a house by myself thirty years later feeling slightly less alone than I did then, by my reckoning. But who am I to say? This has yet to be determined, I know that much. And at this point it hardly seems likely to be, ever, a shame really, night slowly falling, words no longer come to your mouth even soundlessly now. I mean they would not, even had the power of speech still been left you. Morphined-out for an hour or so of mercy, which was about as good as it got at that time, when time stopped, when I moved permanently into that room with you. When all at once your arm began, in slow and evidently unwilled motion, to rise from the bed, fingers spread, a gesture reminiscent of the one you reserved to signify the need for immediate and complete cessation of all conversation, the one I’m still having without you, that I might not miss a particular passage of Mozart when I was six. For as you had often explained, he was the spring. What six-year-old would want to miss out on that? You were so drunk when you started on selected passages from “Lear” I was able to get down on my hands and knees and swiftly crawl out of that basement study, free in the sun. No such sun will be visiting this room. If I wanted, I could get up right now and put on some Mozart. Don’t mind if I do. Your hand remains there, fingers outstretched, forever. However, under circumstances so changed and alien to you, it is possible you’re trying to convey something completely different, something awful, but I’m going to hope that’s not the case. You are not in pain forever. Certainly that remains so. As does your dignity in the midst of the most unimaginable degradation and agony. Confiding to me once that the pain sometimes grew so intense the objects in the room all emitted a kind of green aura. Now there’s one that’s stuck with me. He was real. The pain was real. The dead were alive, and shall be again, if I understand correctly; and if not, they will still be in a place where there are no tears anymore, where there is no pain, this would seem to me incontrovertible. From far enough out, there must be this pure symmetry, the form you sought all your life in the midst of the grotesque chaos in which you kept finding yourself. And look who’s talking. Ought to take a good look at himself for once, and be candid, ever see a more obvious lost cause? But maybe something comes to us in secret, some excellent news, some very glad or merciful dream become a reality that no one else can see and there is no way to describe.

2). Mt. Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Mass., Fall 2010

Rooms I (Iwill not say worked in) once heard in: words my mouth heard then, be with me. Rooms, so many, all my life. Nobodys’ rooms. The way you open onto one another in the memory. Still house this life, be in me, and surround me, pearl halls I wander as in a cathedral where God is home and that enough; I am happy knowing he’s busy, somewhere to the north, creating the birds and planning Adam in his thoughts . . . Its high prow the perch of an angel that dwarfs it, invisible moth with the face of a man and a woman in one spreading vast wings the color of rose petals through which light passes, enshadowing all to the shade of the wine, the bright transfusion.

Franz Wright


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