for Nicholas Tarling who died swimming
In Shallowsleep, that life-of-the-mind that comes
at three or four a.m., hearing big rain
beat on the roof and spill from broken gutter
to concrete path, and quoting to myself
(faultlessly) a sonnet of a single sentence
and great complexity by Willie Yeats,
I promised I would call that comic-strip
tradesman I had named, just to amuse you,
Gutterfix. It was the day we’d buried Nick,
historian, daily dipper, opera aficionado
with song and stories of his gloomy wit.
“Come to our aid, great Gutterfix” I sang
in my opera voice, and laughed, and seemed to fall
a moment after into a dream of drains.