When he fetched the morning paper, he read of the would-be bomber wrestled
down by fellow travelers. A mile in the air, but nothing exploded,
the man merely scorched his own shins. Here icicles fall and bleed on the ground,
his metal roof pings, day yawns. He yawns at a crossword: 22 Down,
Ram’s Ma’am. Tired clue for ewe, it baffled him once, which seems hard to imagine.
He feels as though the years since then, as soon as they get here, vanish.
An expert now, he needs no pencil, taps his pen on the puzzle,
gray grainy grid on the page. Below the fold, Hollywood Buzzes —
with something or other. He doesn’t buzz. If he used to have a life
beyond a hobby, a dog on his lap, is this one so vapid he craves
explosion? No, and he knows it. But as trees go grainy and gray as well
with something vague, neither rain nor snow, they iterate the world’s
flatness of feature. 19 Down: ovum-to-be. His children
are gone, his wife in the earth, who even in older age could be ardent.
And all around him a rampancy of things lukewarm and wizened.
Maybe terror is you, he puns, the you that’s not ram’s ma’am — nor is he
ram anymore. He sluggishly seeks a synonym for chat
in seven letters, 16 Across. How he needs his wife to be back,
needing an ear for his desolate whispers, whimpers.
The dear deaf dachsund
breathes on him from cheek to chin. It quickens him for a moment,
that heady, delusive mixture: animal heat and animal moisture.