Green Hills Literary Lantern



Gertrude Stein’s and Walt Whitman’s Wild Night of Love


            —for Molly


So you come to them and ask, what is the belly?

Where is the garden with its stands of ornamental grasses?

And the intimate center of the grasses, the buds?


And the belly they lift to you is your own, belly, center that carries its own mother,

crescent that holds its own versions of the moon, several versions of the sun,

the moon and sun in a belly, belly, round and moon, round and sun.


And this is their Union, to be, self-evident, self-reverent. All bellies are created

by such nights of leisure and expanse.


Come to me and dance, and she did.


Come to me and lift an arm around the neck of a woman or a wife

or a man or a little husband, would be good, to lift an arm around

a difference, and he did.


This is the poem bred of other poems, bred of other, bread of other.


It began with draughts of beer, and draughts of beer, too much beer, and ended

on a Paris bridge in the morning where other Parisian lovers left each other

for the Louvre and the market and the berries in the market.


And the Thames he mispronounced, and the Thames she said is the Seine.


And he told her, I have never been to England. And she saw his beard as it grew.


And she saw his beard as it was flecked with food and beer.


And felt the thrum of the misfingered chord, and walked home across the bridge

to tell Alice.


And he saw many he could not love in the streets.


But you, generations, tensed, such venerations, bent like limbs.


O you, and the belly you furnish toward the moon

and the common, perfect ground.


You, he still feels. You, a particular name on his tongue.


You, she fits on the pulse of her lung, sharp, earnest breath,

not a death, but a word, or an apricot seed she plants in the air.



David Wright teaches creative writing and American literature at Monmouth College (Illinois). His poems have appeared in Hobart, Ecotone, Poetry East, Image, and many other places. His latest collection of poems is The Small Books of Bach (Wipf & Stock, 2014), and he can be found on Twitter @sweatervestboy.