Two Poems – Louise Matsakis

Two Poems – Louise Matsakis


A Reply is Not Necessary,

But I went today without you to the new Whitney,
with its wide and wrapping terraces
where you can examine the city:
crowds of people patiently waiting to be loved are down there,
underneath tiny specks of birds fighting over tiny squares of the blue sky.

A reply is not necessary,
but I wanted to tell you anyway about how on the fifth floor I saw the Chuck Close painting and sheepishly mistook it for a photograph.

I stood in front of it for what seemed like the duration of our whole lives and thought about how being selfish really just means
ignoring the space that exists in other people for
two feelings to exist at once
for bottomless generosity to lie quietly alongside contempt
as they do inside ourselves all the time.

I thought about whether or not it’s okay to read poems that people once sent to you
on your computer in the middle of the night,
even though those people don’t want to talk to you anymore.

And as I thought, every one of the tiny pores and eyelashes and wrinkles that Close painted on Phil
in nineteen sixty-nine stared right back at me, painfully, like they would in a mug shot of someone that you knew in high school,
found accidentally in your hometown newspaper,
which is now posting articles online.

A reply is not necessary,
but from outside the museum I could see almost all of the Hudson and New Jersey
reflected up the side of the building’s
sea-green-algae-future-space colored windows
that are somehow translucent from the inside.


To the Small Mouse
That Laid Amongst the Construction
Outside Washington Square Park:

your tiny limbs were there
on University
paws folded together.
I put my phone into my pocket
And bent over you:
your lungs were still taking their last breath
as I held mine
for a moment to think how it is strange
that your chest moved at the same pace
as the crushing turns of an ocean
pulled back and then over itself again
by the whims of the same moon
that flooded with light
the milky hairs of your fur
so bright in contrast to the hard edged gravel
bed on which you laid.

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