Sunday, February 5, 2012

I completely trust the grasp of this boy


He's hosting a birthday party
for himself in a room off his
parents' terrace to their gar-
den in California. Ladies who
have looked after him since
the day he was born, Leila and
Alberta, are sweeping in and
out with boytreats and boy-
drinks, as boychums squirm to
see him open their presents.

He's remembering the very
nice things he has been
taught to say but he is an-
xious to be dazzled and he
expects to be. He doesn't
know what this day will
give him, but he knows it
will be generous.

The treasuring, the con-
centration and play in the
hands, clasping this box,
seem to me to bequeath an
attitude which I still ad-
mire in gentlemen. He is
aware of something sweet
in this gesture, and he
is already grateful. 

I see and I hear grown men, 
frantic to claim a divine
right to everything they
can grasp; and I wonder, I
wonder very sincerely, how
they could conceive of this
vice as leadership. I won-
der how that nature could
even know leadership, being
so stunted. What is it that
they harbour deeply but can
not admit, that they want of
people's places of trust?
They want a very fat present
and don't even know, it is.
Where is treasuring, where 
is gratitude, where is the 
sharing of sweetness in for-
tune, that even a child with
freckles knows, at twelve?

Happy birthday, sailor.

    I'm so much more me
    that you are perfectly you.
    What you have clearly said
    is yet in me unmade.

    I'm so much more me
    as time ticks in our ceilings
    that you are perfectly you,
    your deep and lightning feelings.

    And I see in the flashes
    what you have clearly said,
    that feelings are our facts.
    As yet in me unmade.

Frank O'Hara
To Edwin Denby
The Collected Poems
  of Frank O'Hara
Donald Allen, editor
op. cit.

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