Friday, January 16, 2009
James Wright: "In Response to a Rumor ..."
Here's another poem from James Wright's Selected Poems, from the Near Perfect Poetry list. It comes from the volume Shall We Gather at the River (as opposed to Above the River: The Complete Poems).
This is quintessential Wright; it breaks your heart in such a lovely, human way. It is at once the product of its time and the place of its inception and, somehow, ubiquitous, touching tenderly each and every soul that lets it in.
Response to a Rumor That the Oldest Whorehouse
in Wheeling, West Virginia, Has Been Condemned
I will grieve alone
As I strolled along, years ago, down along
The Ohio shore.
I hid in the hobo jungle weeds
Upstream from the sewer main,
I saw, down river,
At Twenty-third and Water Streets
By the vinegar works,
The doors open in early evening.
Swinging their purses, the women
Poured down the long street to the river
And into the river.
I do not know how it was
They could drown every evening.
What time near dawn did they climb up the other shore,
Drying their wings?
For the river at Wheeling, West Virginia,
Has only two shores:
The one in hell, the other
in Bridgeport, Ohio.
And nobody would commit suicide, only
to find beyond death
You might want to check out an earlier version of the Selected Poems at google books: Collected Poems. Have a great weekend.