The Monument and the Shrine


At focus in the national
Park’s ellipse a marker
Draws tight the guys of

Miles, opposite the national
Obelisk with its restless oval
Peoples who shall be

Deeply drawn to its
Austerities: or
For a moment try the mystery

Of the god-like eye, before
Our long climb down past relic
Schoolboy names and states

And one foolish man
Climbs up, his death high
In his elliptic face.


A double highway little
Used in early spring
Goes to the end of the land

Where Washington’s chandeliers
Are kept, his beds and chairs,
His roped-off relic kitchen

Spits, his pans; his floors
Are worn underneath the dead
Pilgrims’ feet; outside

The not-so-visited tomb;
And over the field and fence
His legendary river:

And so I walk although
The day is cold for this;
I eat a thin slice

Of bread and one remarkable
Egg perfectly shaped,
A perfect oriental por-

Celain sheen of white.
Suddenly the lost
Ghosts of his life

Broke from the trees and from the cold
Mud pools where he played
A boy and set as a man

The sand glint of his boot,
The flick of his coat on the weeds;
His wheels click in the single road.

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