SETTING UP HOUSEKEEPING IN SAN FRANCISCO,
the new place comes with a different cast of light,
some Western privacy,
& a set of cats
& so Daughter is joined by Lonesome & Pulque.
Ann doesn’t care much one way or the other about pets,
but Robinson adores the triumvirate:
their inveterate roaming,
their courtly disdain,
their seeming transported from a remote time of great romantic cachet.
Though he knows he should attempt aloofness, Robinson gets attached.
He studies, as such, their many flawed teachings:
how to act thankless as a minor god,
how to sulk like you mean it,
how to be uncontained by rooms.
Their first cat, Flowerface, fell off the roof back in Denver.
When Ann wrote to tell him, he responded with laughter, though after, he acknowledged it very unfunny.
How these cats meow: fulsome.
How they create a masterly reverberation.
How they hold themselves apart.
INSIDE THE BUNGALOW HOUSE
with the wide front porch—
which they do not own, but rent—
Ann drinks alone. During the day. For no particular reason.
Robinson tends to pretend this happens only sometimes.
Keeps giving them occasions—to entertain & be entertained.
Inviting new acquaintances over has always been his métier.
Sometimes, Robinson can keep looking forward to things that have already happened.
He can be petulant, too, sometimes. Sometimes unbiddable.
& words get caught, unforgettable, sometimes in his head:
the rhyme stitched on the britches of the Raggedy Andy
left behind the sofa the other evening by the child of a friend:
Annie, do you love me or do you not?
You told me once, but I forgot.
The best way to deal with not getting what you want
is sometimes to knock off wanting it.
was a long time coming.
Yet, finalized, it stuns:
the manhole cover that flies
up & breaks your jaw.
Kids they never had, in-laws
he never saw, become a past
whose vastness he’s only now
recognized. He never thought
of himself as the kind of man
who would have a first wife.
But there she is—his shade,
his failure. & there she’ll be,
for the rest of his life.