A True Account Of Talking To The Sun At Fire Island


A few years ago, while I was visiting my old home in Maine, my friend Chris left this poem of Frank O’Hara’s on the doorknob. It was a little gift for my host, Laura, handwritten in ink with some watercolor embellishments. It was beautiful. And this morning, with a whole brass section of sun staring me down in the kitchen, I remembered.

The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying "Hey! I've been 
trying to wake you up for fifteen 
minutes.  Don't be so rude, you are 
only the second poet I've ever chosen 
to speak to personally
                       so why
aren't you more attentive? If I could 
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up.  I can't hang around 
here all day." 
              "Sorry, Sun, I stayed 
up late last night talking to Hal."

"When I woke up Mayakovsky he was 
a lot more prompt" the Sun said
petulantly.  "Most people are up 
already waiting to see if I'm going 
to put in an appearance."
                          I tried 
to apologize "I missed you yesterday."
"That's better" he said.  "I didn't 
know you'd come out."  "You may be wondering why I've come so close?"
"Yes" I said beginning to feel hot 
and wondering if maybe he wasn't
   burning me 
anyway.  
       "Frankly I wanted to tell you
I like your poetry.  I see a lot
on my rounds and you're okay.  You
   may
not be the greatest thing on earth, but
you're different.  Now, I've heard some 
say you're crazy, they being excessively
calm themselves to my mind, and other 
crazy poets think that you're a boring
reactionary.  Not me.
                     Just keep on
like I do and pay no attention.  You'll 
find that some people always will 
    complain about the atmosphere, 
       either too hot 
or too cold too bright or too dark, days
too short or too long. 
                      If you don't appear
at all one day they think you're lazy 
or dead.  Just keep right on, I like it. 

And don't worry about your lineage
poetic or natural.  The Sun shines on
the jungle, you know, on the tundra
the sea, the ghetto.  Wherever you
    were 
I knew it and saw you moving.  I was 
    waiting 
for you to get to work.

                        And now that you
are making your own days, so to 
   speak, 
even if no one reads you but me 
you won't be depressed.  Not 
everyone can look up, even at me.  It 
hurts their eyes."
       "Oh Sun, I'm so grateful to you!"

"Thanks and remember I'm watching.  
  It's 
easier for me to speak to you out
here.  I don't have to slide down
between buildings to get your ear.
I know you love Manhattan, but 
you ought to look up more often.
                                And
always embrace things, people earth
sky stars, as I do, freely and with 
the appropriate sense of space.  That
is your inclination, known in the 
   heavens
and you should follow it to hell, if
necessary, which I doubt.
                          Maybe we'll 
speak again in Africa, of which I too
am specially fond.  Go back to sleep 
  now
Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem 
in that brain of yours as my farewell."

"Sun, don't go!"  I was awake 
at last.  "No, go I must, they're calling
me."  
    "Who are they?"
                   Rising he said "Some
day you'll know.  They're calling to you
too."  Darkly he rose, and then I slept.
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3 responses

  1. Oh my goodness I LOVE this! I’ve been having a bit of a love affair with the sun myself, all the way out here in LA, but sometimes it’s easy to take the warmth and shine for granted. Such a great poem to stumble upon, thank you for posting 🙂

    • Isn’t it so delightful?

      Ha, I can definitely see how once could take sunshine for granted in SoCal. Not so in the northeast, I’m afraid! Keep being in love with all the loveliness.

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