This morning, remembering the end
of an unpleasant dream, it seemed important
to think about Edgar Allan Poe.
Was he really afraid of being buried alive?
Or had he figured out exactly
how nervous he could make us?
He was always burying something
that wouldn’t stay buried, or walling up
what he’d have to face when that wall
got torn down. But maybe Poe
was only a rhyme at the edge of my dream,
the way one thing connects to another
until it floats away: rows of beans,
flowers of evil. Now it’s evening
and I’m listening to Joe Lovano playing
a song called “I Have the Room Above Her,”
which feels sweet enough until the title
makes me think of Roderick Usher listening
to his sister waking up in the tomb.
Oh, it was all preventable, everything they did,
but it felt inevitable, which is how
peoples’ lives unfold in a well-made story.
We see what they don’t, and sometimes
we think of ourselves.
What should I be afraid of?
Do I want to know? Perhaps that dream
was trying to keep the answer hidden, and now
it’s gone, so I can’t explain why I thought of Poe
and all his extravagant disguises,
or why, as the song ends, Lovano sounds
so much more mournful than before.
Lawrence Raab’s collection of poems, What We Don’t Know About Each Other, won the National Poetry Series and was a Finalist for the 1993 National Book Award. Recent books include The Probable World, Visible Signs: New & Selected Poems, and The History of Forgetting. His forthcoming collection is titled Or So It Seemed To Me Then.