Skip to main content

The Secret

ISSUE:  Summer 1980
At first the secret seems a form
of wit, a concealed weapon.
And for the man working underground
when he comes home from his job
it can set the unimpeachable
odor of cut onions into poignant relief,
the cat sunning itself in the corner,
all the lost and beautiful laziness
of the domestic.
At first it’s as light
as a word or a whisper of spice or a name.
It’s the vocabulary of a new
tongue the body memorizes as it goes along,
a tongue it recites to itself to stay whole
until the secret refuses
to be a word anymore.
It will not be abstract.
It gathers things to itself, collects mornings,
days, it is gaining shares of the night.
It takes on weight.
Wherever you walk you haul it
behind you, room after tall invisible
room, and wherever it drags
it picks up more of the world
until it must surely be conspicuous
as if a man limping home dragged with him
the last city he came from,
where half of him still lives
like the dark face of a woman who goes wet
to his touch, the keyboard
he snaps shut in his briefcase
when he thinks he is done,
the secret so well fed, so extensive
now it is truly too much
for one to carry;
yet neither the secret nor the small
pale hours he has left outside it
will ever hear of the other
unless he lets them.
They can only deny each other—
the secret that puts on his clothes
in the morning, that carries
his briefcase, that goes through
the distant gestures of his occupation,
the denial that, so long
as he can bear it, is
him, the secret he can no longer


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading