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By Frank Bidart

the remnant of a vast, oceanic

bruise (wound delivered early and long ago)


was in you purity and

sweetness self-gathered, CHOSEN


                                • 


When I tried to find words for the moral sense that unifies

and sweetens the country voices in your collage The Friendly Way,


you said It’s a code.


You were a code

I yearned to decipher.—


In the end, the plague that full swift runs by

took you, broke you;—


                                           in the end, could not

                                           take you, did not break you—


you had somehow erased within you not only

meanness, but anger, the desire to punish

the universe for everything


not achieved, not tasted, seen again, touched—;


. . . the undecipherable

code unbroken even as the soul


learns once again the body it loves and hates is

made of earth, and will betray it.


 


Frank Bidart, "In Memory of Joe Brainard" from Desire. Copyright © 1997 by Frank Bidart. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://us.macmillan.com/fsg. All rights reserved.

Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: Desire (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Living

Poet Bio

Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart grew up in Bakersfield, California, and was, he claims, infected from earliest youth onward with the dream of making great movies. While the choice of expressive medium has changed over the years, the impulse toward a dramatic staging of material has not. Bidart lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and teaches at Wellesley College and Brandeis University.  See More By This Poet

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