Reading Tennessee Williams

Not his plays. His poems. The word
“loneliness” enabling as a wing feather
on this yearling gull ambling past, speckled,
solitary, until he takes flight. I flip
the page into a New Orleans brothel,
genital sorrow. Relief. That mottled
gull now further down the beach,
sitting in a tidal pool, fluffing his wings.

A footnote on the house in Key
West: Tennessee’s gazebo of commemoration,
the plaques he hung for the loved
and lost, the obsessive rose
that can only be itself in slow humid
evenings. Why do lovers sit up anxious
about the dawn? That gull leaving
its shimmering pool, solitude

now grace in air, riding a thermal toward
Tybee Island. What does it matter
that love and terror meet in ordinary
rhyme, if the current where wing
insinuates itself is the shape of glory
and remembrance, the wind’s deceit
a charmed accent that beguiles
soaring youth forever disdaining to land?

John Allman | Mudlark No. 31
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