For Elizabeth Bishop
You are American gossip,
Didn't anyone have the heart to tell you?
You said yourself, you are fantastic
and uncivilized, in the way the intellectual ape
conveniently forgets to use his razor.
But how could you forget?
Lately you have been using it to split hairs,
and to perforate others out of your life.
Some of us are not among the dead,
and don't have the luxury
of spinning in our graves.
But you are making quite a living now
doing that. Thank you again for the compliment but,
Why do you lavish me with help?
I am doing quite well for myself,
for someone who prefers to live the way I do.
Whatever happened to the cake knife
I gave you, and the recipe you gave me?
You should have three of those trifles by now,
one for Jean, one for Elizabeth, and one for Caroline.
I bet you are now wishing you were not so lucky in cards
Aren't you relieved the last one is over?
When I said to you, your star couldn't be brighter, I meant that.
I meant stop trying to outshine, everyone and everything!
And another thing,
Just because you tower over me,
doesn't mean you can use me as an arm rest.
And just because you are made of limestone,
doesn't mean that I use you for a paperweight.
I swear to you, Cal, if I get one more
letter from you asking me to follow you out
to Amsterdam, or Yaddo, or have lunch with you in New York.
You say to me “you can take your time”
and then you say “for heaven's sake hurry up!”
When will you learn?
I am content where I am.