THE TRUTH IS FORCED
Not able to be honest in person
I wish to be honest in poetry.
Speaking to you, eye to eye, I lie
because I cannot bear
to be conspicuous with the truth.
Say it — all of it — would be
taking off my clothes.
I would be exposed. And I would be
possessed. It would be an entire
surrender (to you, eye to eye).
You would examine me too closely.
You would handle me.
All your eyes would swarm me.
I'd be forever after hotly dressed
in your clying, itching, greedy bees.
Whether you are one or two or many
it is the same. Really, I feel as if
one pair of eyes were a whole hive.
So I lie (eye to eye)
by leaving the core of things unvoiced
or else by offering a dummy
in place of myself.
One must be honest somewhere. I wish
to be honest in poetry.
With the written word.
Where I can say and cross out
and say over and say around
and say on top of and say in between
and say in symbol, in riddle,
in double meaning, under masks
of any feature, in the skins
of every creature.
And in my own skin, naked.
I am glad, indeed I dearly crave
to become naked in poetry,
to force the truth
through a poem,
which, when is made, if real,
not a dummy tells me
and then you (all or any, eye to eye)
my whole self,
- May Swenson