Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 11 • Fall 2004 • Featured Writer • Poetry


David Bergman

for Peter Klappert

There is comfort in the familiar sea,
he thought and sat and watched the waves come in
as they had always done, rolling

with a self-important swagger until
they fell halfway up the beach and were forced
to crawl on hands and knees to shore.

But it was too familiar, just like home.
The sea rattled with the same ghostly bones
that clattered up in the attic,

the gulls keened with the same corrosive cry
that his mother stifled in the laundry,
and the beach smelled with the same sweet

rot he'd sniff in the kitchen when his lunch,
a thin sandwich slathered with mayonnaise,
was left all day on the sideboard.

Only the old words in the old order
brought him comfort, and he rediscovered
a joy he had long forgotten:

the endless pleasure of reading endlessly.
He turned the pages over like waves
he'd dream of riding as a boy.

There were no new words for delight in his
vocabulary, and he was too old
to learn a different tongue. He'd stay

with past patterns, fixed, unalterable,
spells that the wizard casts upon himself
when he fails to make new magic.

David Bergman

David Bergman is a professor of English at Towson State University, the author of Gaiety Transfigured: Gay Representation in American Literature, and the editor of Camp Grounds: Style and Homosexuality. Bergman has published poetry in The Paris Review, The New Criterion, and The New Republic. He has edited a collection of Edmund White's essays entitled The Burning Library. His latest book is The Violet Hour: The Violet Quill and the Making of Gay Culture (Columbia University Press, 2004). He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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