My Keats Year

By James Davis May

Featured Art: Tea Party with Open Pottery by Seymour Rosofsky

Shouldn’t it be I’m disappointed by (or because of) and not in you?

We were watching Stellar’s jays—I didn’t know their names then,
I addressed the first one as “Monsieur Mohawk”—watch us,
or watch our meal rather. I don’t know if birds feel disappointment,
but as they flitted around the perimeter of the patio
with an odd combination of aggression and timidity,
their feet on the sun-bleached railing
making sounds like a hand searching a filled drawer
for something that’s not in the drawer,
the diminishment of cereal must have been processed
as the bird-equivalent of disappointment.

When I picked up Chelsea’s bowl and took it inside to the sink,
I thought of California (it was my first time in the state),
and then of Robinson Jeffers,
and then of the time Jeffers realized
he was older than Keats when Keats died, and then I realized
I was older than Jeffers when he realized this.

He was taking firewood back to his house and had to walk over a very narrow
bridge, one that his dog seemed reluctant to cross again. So he left the bundle,
carried the dog over, and then went back for the wood when he was hit by his
age, and then the “insignificance” of what he had written.

And yet we say, “I’m disappointed with myself,”
which sounds redundant.

The woman eating dinner with us the night before told us there was no age she
wanted to go back to. Someone pointed out that she was still young.

James Davis May is the author of the poetry collection Unquiet Things. He lives in Macon, Georgia.

Originally published in NOR 15

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