An Intimate Moment of Protestant Despair Witnessed on the Four O’ Clock Train
He put down his Wall Street Journal,
and leaned forward to rest his elegant WASP head
against the green vinyl seat-back in front of him
–and it seemed to me the sigh he sighed
was a great exhalation of old dynastic air,
as if he had somehow overheard my unkind thoughts
about his Yale class ring and tasseled leather shoes.
Or as if, from high in the stratosphere
he had felt the inexorable rotation of the Aztec clock,
predicting the extinction of the stock exchange,
the midget owl, the literary novel, the G and T,
the Arctic caribou, and he.
No more sailboat parties and au pairs!
no more riding lessons for the girls!
the whole ecology of khaki pants and summers on the beach
pulled out to sea
in a long withdrawing tide
of Izod shirts and Jay McInerny novels,
–the four horsemen of apocalypse
riding in on polo ponies
whose names are Ralph Lauren, Hugh Hefner, John Cheever,
and Henry Cabot Lodge.
These visions of the end–
each of us will be required
to submit to one of them. In his dream, he sees
a woman strolling on a beach three hundred years from now
who plucks a button from the sand,
and rubs her fingertip across
the tiny anchor stamped into the brass;
a little golden amulet; a charm,
a wonder of the ancient world.