When God at first made man,
Having a glasse of blessings standing by; . . .
George Herbert, "The Pulley," 1633
REST. George Herbert poured it last from the glasse.
People only find it at the bottom.
When I rolled down to the bottom
of the hotel bed, and the cell phone lit
with your number, I thought my torso had pressed it
—for you are in the rest of life now,
in the dregs of the blessings glasse.
In jet-lagged unrest I played the messages:
Your voice! With all the colors of its emotions
from cerulean to cerise. What were the colors
in the glasse of blessings? Herbert doesn’t say.
Surely they were thalo and carmine? Instead he says,
“So strength first, then beautie flowed…”
but your words were garbled and weak. Slow.
Yet your message hemorrhaged its color into air
—in half-syllables after your brain hemorrhage.
I heard your voice as in a painting: CAN’T. BE. YOUR. PSYCHO-
-THERAPIST. ANYMORE. Meta to physical. Brain to torso. . .
Think of a hand-blown goblet Herbert himself
might have held, bubbled and thick, yet pouring out
“the world’s riches.” So the cell phone hadn’t spoken out
from a dream, but from the waking life—
where “wisdome, honour,” flowed, from a life
partly wakened, restless with a ready urge to be,
and feel “pleasure, ” Herbert’s second-to-last “treasure.”
The last part was clear: CALL WHEN YOU GET HOME!
Then date and time in stately monotone.
It takes such strength to call, I can’t search now
for why—though all our enterprise was for why.
The bottom of the glass is standing by,
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 32 Number 4, on page 46
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