‘Who could have known, in 1959, the balloon would not go up?
Who could have seen, back then, the new world’s new disorder?
John Ruskin says all clouds are masses of light, even the darkest ones
Hard to remember that these overcast afternoons,
Midweek, ash-black and ash-white,
negative shapes sketched in
And luminous here and there in loose interstices
Elbowed and stacked between earth and sky.
Hard to remember that as the slipstream of memory shifts
And shutters, massing what wasn’t there as though it were.
Where are the secret codes these days for nuking the Brenner Pass?
And the Run, and the Trieste Station?
Like sculptured mist, sharp-edged and cut into form, they slide on by.’
From ’Negatives II’ by the American poet Charles Wright.
From the book ’Black Zodiac’ 1997
(It won the Pulitzer Prize)