The title poem of J. D. McClatchy’s most recent collection brings us his vision of Mercury, the God of thievery and travel, swift bearer of messages in his winged sandals. We also offer an original broadside of the poem designed by Chip Kidd – the first of several downloadable broadsides to come this month.
To steal a glance and, anxious, see
Him slipping into transparency—
The feathered helmet already in place,
Its shadow fallen across his face
(His hooded sex its counterpart)—
Unsteadies the routines of the heart.
If I reach out and touch his wing,
What harm, what help might he then bring?
But suddenly he disappears,
As so much else has down the years . . .
Until I feel him deep inside
The emptiness, preoccupied.
His nerve electrifies the air.
His message is his being there.
Excerpt from MERCURY DRESSING © 2009 by J.D. McClatchy. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.