Joan E. Bauer: For Auden — Circling Toward Home
Late August & I'm reading by flashlight
thinking you were Brodsky's friend.
'Musée des Beaux Arts,' a poem I taught
so often. I should know more.
In boarding school, you were cheeky,
untidy, the brightest boy around.
What to make of that piling on of blankets,
even a carpet, to stay warm.
Art, you claimed: born of humiliation.
You knew that early & you had the gift
of double focus, of seeing the world
with more than one lens.
You committed to becoming not just
a poet, but 'a great poet,' at Oxford.
With Isherwood, explored Berlin,
'the buggers daydream,'then turned
to teaching. Dry martinis as you crafted
librettos with Kallman whom you loved
to distraction. Eighty years ago you wrote
a prophetic poem about dictators who hoped
to bend nations to their will. Then disowned
the poem, calling its language 'too high-flown.'
Such a gift for friendship.
I hadn't known it was Oliver Sacks
who drove you to the airport as you left
America for England, that last time.
Copyright 2019 Joan Bauer