Where Shall I Wander
Author: John Ashbery
Publisher: ECCO (2006)
National Book Award Finalist 2005
John Ashbery's new collection of fifty-one poems ends with the substantial piece that gives the book its title. Composed in stanzaic prose, it is a fine specimen of his distinctive courtship mode, wooing the language with language, teasing it and teasing out of it a Protean lover that loves Protean him back: a you, an I, in a wild variety of registers and postures.
You meant more than life to me. I lived through
you not knowing, not knowing I was living.
I learned that you called for me. I came to where
you were living, up a stair. There was no one there.
No one to appreciate me. The legality of it
upset a chair. Many times to celebrate
we were called together and where
we had been there was nothing there,
nothing that is anywhere. We passed obliquely,
leaving no stare. When the sun was done muttering,
in an optimistic way, it was time to leave that there.
–from “The New Higher”