In this Olson was right:
it’s the syllable that matters
as it, fettering the breath in,
makes it lightsome,
            roomy.
Writing about him, a younger
poet tells us, “Recently I’ve
been staring
        at the New
York etchings of John Sloan,
‘an incorrigible widow-watcher.’
And I teeter
        over widow,
like it, wish to believe in it,
but my reason adjudges it
nothing but a misprint.
            Yet
that word, since his etchings
mirror many women, doing
what they had to,
            may well
have hit the bull’s eye. Surely
widows would have filled
a good part
        of the hours
he spent at the speckled, rear-
window of his 23rd Street
studio staring
        into fusty
tenement rooms, the railroad
apartments facing on his alley,
no doubt places
            suitable
for widows, life’s left-overs,
and those too poor to ever
get started,
        at last mattering
in his look as in the loving
stroke bit deeply, surely
into his plates.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 2, on page 47
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