A weekly poem, read by the author.
June 18 1998 3:30 AM


To hear the poet read "Biopsy," click here.


Have I told you, love, about the experience
I sometimes had before I knew you?
At first it seemed to be a dream--I'd be in bed--
then I'd realize I was awake, which made it--
it was already frightening--appalling.

A dense, percussive, pulsing hum,
too loud to bear as soon as I'd hear it,
it would become a coil of audible matter,
still intensifying, so penetrating now
I was sure I'd tear apart in it.

I'd try to speak or shout to contradict it,
but its hold on me was absolute,
I was paralyzed; then, my terror
past some limit, I'd try again, this time
I'd moan aloud, and it would stop.

Trembling, I'd come to myself, as,
the night of your tests, I came shuddering
awake, my fear for you, for us both,
raging more terribly through me
than that vision of annihilation ever did.

I felt I was in that desolate time before you:
I couldn't turn to you for reassurance
without frightening you, couldn't embrace you
lest I wake you to your own anxiety,
so, as I had then, I lay helpless, mute.

... The results were "negative," you're fine,
now I can tell you of those hours in which
my life, not touching you but holding you,
not making a sound but crying for you,
divided back into the half it is without you.

C.K. Williams was awarded the PEN/Voelcker Career Achievement award this year. His most recent book of poems is The Vigil.



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