Meeting Robert Lowell

by B.Z. Niditch

Into your creaking office
with ivy toned wisdom
carrying Catullus
but fearing thirst and hell
you were defenseless
in a wizened gray sweater
crazy and cold
muttering about
the withered evergreen
the nut job Hitler
sullen Berryman
and an ambulance
to McLean’s hospital
on the way.

Outside your window
snowflakes quiver
you recite in Japanese
asking for Tate and sake
in your changing face
and I’m trembling
to share a few lines
from my wrinkled notebook
and wounded sensibility
a circle of deep affection
yields a beauteous shadow
across the room.