Biography ~ Nathan E. White

drawn for Carrie

Impatient in the room where they slept,

waiting for him to retire, her eyes open

to the dark, she followed the right angle

of wall and ceiling. They had years

between them.


A couple takes a box (we must fill and fill

with endless longing). She could hear

herself engaging those words with him,

long after the proposition lost its appeal.


Upon first meeting, he looked at her

practically. Hers was an unusual thirst

he explained willingly, effectively. Together

they excelled. They surprised each other

with stories, sketches of the people

around them, people walking in the park

and through the museum and restaurants.


In his study down the hall, Sundays especially

he belonged to the biography unfinished

at work, refusing supper. To her his dedication

seemed one-sided, unreasonably withheld,

like a psalm sung under one’s breath.


She pictured them in Phrygia, aging

husband and wife hosting discreet gods,

incapable of outliving each other…wary

of that joint sting: bluff and abandonment.


He had shown her how to be circumspect

and critical. His version. Told her how

to invent a past irrefutable to most anyone.

He confirmed each significant anniversary

of his subject—between the two of them

only she could detail their first afternoon

as lovers.


He came in late. She wanted to touch him

where he had no choice, but he turned away,

preoccupied. She whispered, History’s more

an iceberg: stark, cyclopean. The dark mass

of his shirt, pressed for the morning, hanging

on a chair, startled her for a second.