After Reading Winter Stars on the Radio
for Michael Luis Medrano
The first time I read Elegy
by Larry Levis, I didn’t get it.
My poet friend who used to be
a journalism major gave it to me
as a graduation gift in 2007,
ten years after it was published
and nearly ten years before
I shed my grad school self
and learned how to read
and write poetry a little bit more
like I spoke. Elegy with a
Chimneysweep Falling Inside It
seemed impenetrable to me
then, and so did the entire
collection. It took me a long time
to admit I was baffled by Levis,
and maybe I still am. But then:
a gift. One of our poetry elders
calls me one day and says,
I’ve got a couple boxes of VHS
tapes in the garage and I’d like
to give them to you if you think
you can save them. So I do
the only thing I can do: I say yes.
And when I see “Larry Levis
and Philip Levine at the Wild Blue,
8/28/84” I make sure to watch
that one first, and I listen. Here’s
what I heard: The voice of Levis
himself falling out of the sky
and into my tiny headphones.
That giant, a man himself.
Each moment remembered
in the rewinding of the tape.