background image
white river poems 319
part ii
going among the documents
From the inquiries of Federal commission and Congressional committee
a quartet of officials
Hayt, Pitkin, Byers, Fisk --
at the start of the hearings,
in the clear prosaic light
of offi
ce and hearing-room,
each man is fi rmly outlined,
details of feature and dress
are plain. Each is translucent,
all the same, like certain shrimp,
and as the veins and organs
of the shrimp are visible,
inside these men can be seen
luminous panoramas
on a miniature scale:
now a plain, population
darkening it in places --
canals shine among the green
oblongs of fi elds; now a vast
army encampment. These men,
having public existence
only (at such occasions)
are only partially real --
although such reality
as they have is fi rm enough
in this conjoint appearance
of individual features
lacking intrinsic interest
(aside from such vague menace
and promise as may be seen