Kathi Wolfe

after Frank O'Hara and David Lehman  

It is 12:15 in New York
and I am wondering
what to say when the doctor
blasts the all-seeing
light into my surprised eyes.  

I am wondering if the last thing
I see will be Garbo
lying on a couch,
dying in Camille,
or the blue screen
of death on my computer.  

I am wondering
if the lights on Broadway
will dim for a minute
in homage to my news.  

I am wondering
if I will create
an ars poetica
of Braille,
Seeing-Eye dogs,
stares, averted eyes;
if I will sing new songs
with Homer and Milton.  

Or will I dwell in
where you
don't die,
but feel
as if you should.  

I only know,
in Papaya King,
on 86th and Third Avenue
inhaling onions and mustard,
there will always be you,
hot dogs and papaya.

from the Helen Keller poems:

You say
I can't speak
of sound
or write of light.
are off-limits to me.
Defectives, you insist,
can't wipe
a crying baby's tears
or escape
a fire's wild orange flame.
What right
do I have to even talk
of color, you demand.
No more right
than you
to tell of Paris,
unless, like me,
you've inhaled
the mingled scent
of cigarettes and hyacinth
drifting along the Seine.
Can you know
the Pyramids,
if you haven't felt
the rough-hewn, ancient stone,
the scratchy lick
of a camel's tongue,
the sandy silence
of the desert,
as I did one summer night?

Do you dare
to dream of heaven
when you've never been there?

Kathi Wolfe is a poet and writer in Falls Church, VA.  Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in
Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Potomac Review, Gargoyle, Passager Magazine, Breath & Shadow and other publications.  She has appeared on the public radio show The Poet and the Poem and read in the Library of Congress Poetry at Noon Series.  Wolfe has received grants for poetry residencies at Vermont Studio Center, an artist community in Johnson, VT.  She was awarded a Puffin Foundation grant for her work on her chapbook of poems on Helen Keller.



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