Honest question, says K., while we’re having late lunch. And I need an honest answer, she continues. Why do you stay? I stared at my Cuban sandwich, knowing that it was more than just a query about my current state, more than just about my work and my client. I can’t remember what I said now, to be honest. There might be some truth there, but I know for a fact that I haven’t figured it all out yet. How long do we figure things out, do you think?
But I am here now. I got on a plane and landed somewhere else, an hour and a half later. Hoping I’ll meet the pieces of myself that I left here last year. Or perhaps hoping that those pieces will meet me and discover what changed and not changed.
Material, material, material, I tell her, snapping my fingers. We were talking about something else, although it could still be the same thread of conversation. It always arrives on the same path anyway—the world, life, poetry.
Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about
still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks.
This is from The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara, edited by Donald Allen, published by Vintage Books, 1974.