When Ms. M.M. visited Wallace Stevens
At his office building where there were
“eleven or twelve white marble columns along the façade”
(her famous precision on parade
but not too much – there’s the fatal “or”
to remind us of what poetry is for
and of what good manners requires as well)
and a wide window, otherwise indescribable
letting the banal Connecticut sunlight through.
No doubt Mr. Stevens had a lot to do
But he did show M.M. his secretarial pool
where the actuarial tools
were applied, and procedures for getting reimbursed
if your property had been cursed
by fire, theft, or a smell in the air.
The girls all smiled. “They aren’t bothered with strikes there;
the girls at the Hartford have it nice.”
Said Ms. M. M. – do her words take a slice?
Or were they just words, and thus meant quite sincerely?
Then it was over as begun, over merely.
Neither one showed the other the truth
- that they were monsters, monsters on the loose.