This is the one
who does not even know how to ask a question.
Morning light
glazes the bellows of his cheeks as it
fires each bead
of water from his pursed lips in the thread
falling into
a half-basin of travertine below,
necessity
wrinkling his brow with what he cannot say:
the rhetoric
of grand gestures, the fountains’ euphuistic
surge and crown
escape him, humble last child of this town,
no tricolor
intended where rust-red and slime-green gather;
and yet, in autumn,
when plane leaves clog the grate and make it brim
and briefly flood,
some passersby may see the fountain, nod
to the hydrocephalous
good will abundant in this man-child’s face,
his eyes asquint,
and bend, and drink, and realize what is meant
by thirst is all
other than what fame teaches; at this wall
know, and for sure,
the sweetest water is the most obscure.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 32 Number 1, on page 32
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