For Catherine H.

A rolling hill of parquet glass thins at the edge of the world the lead lines wind toward that unstoppable humpty dumptywhich will transform your parlor from the warmth of lacy teas to the scary coldness of a room rented. I became all the stages from foolishness to foppery under your annual gaze, a half hour every year or two. The clock in your painting never moved a minute, you stayed the same, from 81 to 82 while I went from 14 to 15. I wanted to seem, not what I am, a patchwork of faults like out-of-tune horns blasting, but a smooth, Victorian lordling, as literate as a shelf of great novels, dissolved with pearl and rosewater like a concoction of Maimonides and quaffed at a draught. As you saw with the eye of Rochefoucauld,I am none of those things, but with ''possibilities,'' you waited for them while I auditioned disguises. I am enough now and you don't recognize me any more. I am finished, and starting again, long at the planing smooth and remolding, as taut as a violin string holding my wild parts to a pitch of redefining. I'm free at last to howl dance on roller-skates to stay quiet and not shine at every chance, I wish you could really see the change, but I don't need anyone to notice, really . . .

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