Lanthanum 3.7


In mid-May Minneapolis, the lilacs reign.
Enveloping roads and lakes, an ever-present
scented empire, theirs (invisible, innocent).
In late dusk-glow we drove the river road again,

my father and I. He showed me the old apartment
(Kearsarge, 15th St.) his diffident Uncle Shelley
was donated, to keep him straight. Told me
about his grandmother, Jessie Ophelia – opulent

Cleopatra Desdemona, her sister – daughters
of St. Louis riverboat captain. I remember
my gr-grandmother (known simply as Mom) –
blind, close to 100, at the head of the dinner

table, under that jolly panorama (Washington
and Lafayette, dancing). Going to see her
at the nursing home, with a curious fear
of the blind python (Tiresias) – soon

displaced by gentleness (hers) and childish
boredom (mine). Jessie Ophelia, the river-
girl. Now somewhere far, with the Ojibwa
(Sunset Land). Back of my mind (a wish,

a river-wash, a whisper-flow). These
celebrated names – out of Poe, Shakespeare,
vernacular hotels, recitals... float there,
fondly – Psyche, Ligeia (sprites in a frieze

across a Petersburg ceiling). Begins
in the shallows, then runs deep. These
ladies of the lilac barge will ride the breeze
magnetic, magnetized (your river-twins).