Chanson Pour Norman

In that odd moment
stopping for black coffee
halfway through Hemingway
the first really educated man in the family
is always attacked by unforgettable silences
though he feels bound to call them noises.
This is understandable but when he starts
giving them voices and even worse faces
that is where nostalgic reconstruction
gives the lie to a loss of what is mere figment
and though the bitterness is fierce it is false.

New things are happening which he does not understand.
This is not real he says as he returns to
his own salty pages his own meaty cows
his own sacred earthiness
those qualities he admires in others.
I want to tell him that all he can hope for
that way is plain pre-history a lake of sodium chloride.
Because I know how it feels when you’re stuck
for a nice big bone to pick.
His coffee is understandably black.