James Merrill

About the Phoenix

But in the end one tires of the high-flown.
If it were simply a matter of life or death
We should by now welcome the darkening room,
Wrinkling of linen, window at last violet,
The rosy body lax in a chair of words,
And then the appearance of unsuspected lights.
We should walk wonderingly into that other world
With its red signs pulsing and long lit lanes.
But often at nightfall, ambiguous
As the city itself, a giant jeweled bird
Comes cawing to the sill, dispersing thought
Like a birdbath, and with such final barbarity
As to wear thin at once terror and novelty.

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