Fred­er­ick Sei­del

The New York Review of Books - - Contents - —Fred­er­ick Sei­del

Poem

Some­time near dawn, driv­ing a stolen car

So fast I will never ar­rive,

Float­ing with­out a des­ti­na­tion and with­out a li­cense

Along the empty high­ways across the Mis­sis­sippi from St. Louis, Just the oc­ca­sional big in­ter­state truck’s

Prong of head­lights stick­ing into the dark Through the misty sum­mer odor of to get away! At age fif­teen, too young to drive or drink— Is what I did a lot of, with a lot of drink,

And the driver’s-side win­dow open

To loll my head out to sniff the on­com­ing breeze like a dog, Quaffing the opi­ate of the gi­gan­tic fields of Illi­nois,

Suck­ing in deep breaths of the husky

Thick bit­ter­sweet bi­tu­mi­nous

Ris­ing al­ready at this early hour from the fac­tory smoke­stacks

Of col­laps­ing fac­to­ries made of roseate bricks, Ec­static, as though of pred­nisone I had drunk,

And that cold black earth smell out in the boon­docks. And Vergil takes me by the hand as we de­scend To meet the shades of Homer, Ovid, Ho­race, Lu­can.

And I stop to give those greats a ride at dawn

And in their com­pany at sun­rise whoosh to wher­ever I be­long On wings of song.

How in the world does this con­nect to Bar­bara Epstein?

This is a way of bring­ing flow­ers to her shrine.

If I’m con­stantly steal­ing my fa­ther’s cars, for­ever, she is for­ever Found­ing co-ed­i­tor of The New York Re­view of Books, and that’s bet­ter— Even though she nearly al­ways can­celed at the last minute

Ev­ery lunch date she ever made with any­one, or so it seemed!

One of the great edi­tors

(And even in that wicked world every­one rev­ered her)

Could be re­lied on to can­cel

The lunch date with you she her­self had made.

It was her tic nerveux to have to.

This is what hap­pens when you think of some­one no longer alive you love.

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