To hear the poet read "Biopsy," click
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's Flesh and Blood won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 1987. His latest book, Selected Poems, was published in 1994.