Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Away by Nicole Burdette

Last week I asked my favorite poet/actress/playwright for another poem for TMP, and she sent "Away," which you can see below. Burdette was a co-founder of the Naked Angels Theater Company in New York and in her spare time played Tony's cool sister Barbara from California in the HBO series "The Sopranos." My favorite Burdette performance, however, was as Brad Pitt's sullen Indian girlfriend in "A River Runs Through It." Along with the poem, she also sent this reminiscence of my old boss George Plimpton:

"I read this at the Oak Room at the Algonquin and the Great George was there, and after I read he picked me up into the air (my feet clear off the ground) and told me that was the poem HE had been trying to write all these years - I still don't know quite what he was talking about, and Steve Clark had to take his shoulder and say 'Okay George, you need to let Nicole down now.'"


I lived in a windowsill once
A year plus; I never slept
Hardly ate – saw the sun
I was in love then – with a boy
He never saw where I lived
And it frightened me to think
Of a place where he would keep
His things – though he never frightened me
He, rather, held me in his arms,
At night on the steps of that church
On Sixteenth Street and one night
Again – in his arms on a park bench
On St. Luke’s Place he made me a poet
That boy – I sometimes think – that boy
Who was fifteen years older then –
Still is – that boy who brought me
A single silver bracelet made by Indians
In Montana – that boy whose father is a Saint
It’s true that boy –
Who was a prodigy many years back –
At Trinity in Dublin – the favorite son
Until the day he read Yeats and suffered –
Suffered so much – suffered I guess
What his father did before him –
- Listen carefully to what I say –
- About this boy

He read Yeats one day
And lost his mind –
He got lost –
They found him and sent him home
You see I could never go to his place
see his things –
I but lived in a windowsill –
Barely enough for my weightless self
That’s the summer I watched a Saint
Walk away from my windowpane
He always had a slight limp
And his eyes squinted as if he was
Forever in the midst of making a very important decision
Should I go up University or down Ninth Street
I saw him last contemplating that corner

- posted to TMP by James Linville. See more by Nicole Burdette here, here, and here.

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