A Change of Air
Corns, heartburn, sinus headaches, such minor ailments
Tell of estrangement between your name and you,
Advise a change of air: heed them, but let
The modesty of their discomfort warn you
Against the flashy errands of your dreams.
To grow a sailor’s beard, don monkish garb,
Or trade in an agglutinative tongue
With a stone-age culture would be mollycoddling:
To go Elsewhere is to withdraw from movement;
A side-step, a short one, will convey you thither.
Although its chaffinches, maybe, have learned
The dialect of another river-basin,
A fault transformed the local building stone,
It has a priest, a post-mistress, an usher,
Its children know they are not to beg from strangers.
Within its average elsewhereishness
Your name is as a mirror answers, yourself
How you behave in shops, the tips you give:
It sides with neither, being outside both,
But welcomes both with healing disregard.
Nor, when you both return (for you will)
Where luck and instinct originally brought you,
Will it salute your reconciliation
With farewell rites, or populate your absence
With reverent and irreverent anecdote.
No study of your public re-appearance
Will show, as judgement on a cure demands,
A sudden change in love, ideas, or diet:
Your sojourn Elsewhere will remain wordless
Hiatus in your voluble biography.
Fanatic scholarship at most may prove
That you resigned from a Committee, unearth
A letter from the Grand-Duke to his cousin,
Remarking, among more important gossip,
That you seem less amusing than you were.
= Alan Reinhardt