In this place, the Vera Cruz of the ancients, where
I followed my trade as best I could and wrote my
best and good poems (throwing away the rest),
they hold their conference, but they do not pay
any special homage to me. Even the author of an
account of my brief existence after the close of
the Master’s life chooses to talk about his own work
and his vocation rather than my modest, yet more
than competent, poems, poems that he once took
to be the expression, oddly, of what he calls a “real”
person. It is not betrayal I feel, not exactly. It’s more
like the pressure of sadness felt like heavy engulfing
air that breaks one down and down, metaphorically,
of the temporary and temporizing bends. Waiting
too long is all of that and nothing else that matters.
Oh blessed Lear, who chose even the dead-wrong
action over the long, slow wait for fairness or love.
Apr. 30, 1988
George Monteiro is professor emeritus at Brown University, and a distinguished scholar of American and Portuguese Literatures.