I was waiting for you to get to work
‘A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island’
Frank O’Hara

1 You know the second person in the history of the world
the Sun chose to speak to personally was Frank O’Hara, the
first was Orpheus [me]. You are my Sweetheart said the
Sun. He was sitting on the hood of his truck. Somehow it
was menacing. I hardly knew what to say. I got into the
truck that strange autumn light sharpening all glass and
harm my hands fell off. The Sun got in beside me took my
hands one by one blew into each finger filling it with a
kind of sound. Gave my hands back to me. That was the
beginning of my being interesting

2 I had originally an idea to record the sound of skirts
moving on legs on the runway this blank verse. She was a
model when I first of course no one runs on a runway
but the skirts the legs are like pumas. Desire she said is not
harmful til lips spill it then be careful

3 Tell you a story about the best poem I ever wrote the one I
lost. That page was terrific it slid out of a dream about the
littorals above Europe and me looking down as. As on oh
oceans I had all the answers I was an answer! I was high as
day arising and truth shot out of me like a lark. Years ago.
These are tears I do not use. I lost the page again and again
found it again and again every time I moved finally
captured it in a plastic sleeve put it on top of the TV. A
scrap of paper torn and brownish now some words just
stain. What does it mean the littorals above Europe I never
found out. I look at it fast sometimes Hoping

4 Like any couple we’d sat silent in restaurants staring
opposite ways our pockets stuffed with useless summer
money doesn’t mean we were a pissed palindrome

5 Like any couple don’t whistle I’m not your good dog she’d
say I’d say swimming at this hour you must be mad

6 My fifteen minutes in hell I scarcely remember. I know it
was cold. I saw uncreated things seeping here and there
with roots for ears they hadn’t heard a voice in centuries. I
sang a bit. The very ghosts shed tears (Daily Mirror). Eurydice
limped over. Lawyers arrived reciting conditions. Soon
we were off down the hall me admiring the acoustics
wondering could I get a gig and What’s the phone number
down here
I said starting to turn poof shall we say a sad
mischance. All my skin cried back all my wings beat once
and that was that. The story that she said nothing but Who?
is a lie

7 One thing about hell is the echo is fabulous. No sound
studio on earth can give you a transverse magnetisation
leak of less than zero. I stood in the black trees transfixed
and pulsing and her stroking off down the lake so strangely

8 I was. I lost. I sang. I knew. I ever hope for that strange
autumn light again with the good dog again with the
thousands of years. Scrap of [me] off Eurydice torn. Her
number I lost her lark I shot and she a pulse. History never
looks so possible as when leaving a heart spilt among the
stones crying Don’t read it again it was perfect

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Vol. 32 No. 6 · 25 March 2010

Orpheus, as voiced by Anne Carson, is wrong to think that Frank O’Hara was ‘the second person in the history of the world’ – after him – to be spoken to personally by the Sun (LRB, 25 February). The Sun had had a similar chat with Vladimir Mayakovsky back in June 1920 (‘An Extraordinary Adventure which Befell Vladimir Mayakovsky in a Summer Cottage’).

Bill Manhire
Victoria University, Wellington

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