Conjunctions:41 Two Kingdoms

Two Faces
Faces of sorrow
and contentment!—one upright,
another one up side down.
And in that village, under a busy sky,
it was too hot for anybody
to walk about in
the narrow cobbled passageways:
just a village street. And when he was younger
his face reflected in the street
car window, just as he stepped up
onto the moving vehicle. He looked
this way knowing what he saw, and
with the church steeple behind him,
on a cloudy yet sunny day. What a face
of sorrow and expectation! He is like and unlike his father
they say—his father,
a thoughtful man—hand to chin,
unlike himself—hand to cheek.
And the big dreamy sad eyes
of father. Fact—it’s unknown who
photographed him, white gloves
and all. But he was never like that,
white gloves and such. Much of his time
was spent in his studio with a view
of the garden, his big easel near the window,
empty bottles all about. Just another
example of his divided self—the studio
up the hill and the apartment
in town where, after all, no one
wanted him, yet he kept going,
even with the village boys
throwing rocks at him,
he kept going.

Clarence Major was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1999 for Configurations: New and Selected Poems.