The Holes by Stephen Berg

It would be December soon. Must be why I received an early Christmas gift, then — I’ve just discovered Stephen Berg, and why I haven’t known about him all this time, is something I’m also asking myself. Of course like all other things, it’s because I’m too late. I learn about things too late. Early in my life it was too late, says Margaret Duras with doe eyes. In my mind I am sitting on the floor, in the library, tucked in between rows and rows of shelves. If I keep really quiet no one would know I’m there.

The Holes
Stephen Berg

Suddenly I remember the holes,
Suddenly I think of a man with no entrances,
no exits, the closed man, with feelers or claws
so sensitive that he can tell
what rock is, or flesh, water, or flame.
Where does everything go when it comes in?
What should I do with the pure speech of cells
where we find ourselves?
The river flies, the dusk crawls into the ground,
the streets get up and leave,
the sun recklessly feeds our blood.
We could be crouching on the branch, we could be
gnawing the brown feathers and thighs of a new animal,
we could be plotting under the ice while others dream.
But I want the infinite man who sleeps
in my veins to rise, I want to hear
the thin buzzing that floats out of my chest
like an arm of locusts making terrible decisions.
Sometimes I want to die because of this.

From Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry in Open Forms, edited by Stephen Berg and Robert Mezey, published by The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1969.

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