After the Civil War, painting the American West
was popular because it was not the setting
of either side’s tragedy. People wanted to look at scenes
free from the marks of our enemies
and selves. But what man has ever really lusted for
the untouched except in the briefest of moments before
he lays his own hands all over it? If unsettled surroundings
exemplify purity, they’re also empty.
Eastern architecture’s old walls, crowded and obstinate,
hold on to the curios of love, hold in the clutter of anger,
and collect many allegiances—
which have killed men, and made them feel they matter.
Isn’t the woman you really want she whose resentments
also require her to remember everything;
who, through her rages, keeps your history carefully
as fine china; and is confident of a future for fickleness
and the one with whom she has sided? She’ll spoil
a man, the same word used for what builders of houses do
to once wild landscapes they love too much to let alone.