When love a little came for the first time to James,
A growing boy,
Who had been all for roller-skates before, and matches between boys and boys with James among them,
James, like the not too knowing lad that he was, thought, in his heart, in his bones, in his flesh, thought, thought, thought, Hell, hell, what is all this.
Hell, hell, what is all this, he thought and love went on.
Bodies went on by him in the street, thoughts went on in him, in the street, and Hell, hell, thought James Rowan, what, what is all this, this about.
And then when Jane did her lovely, ugly, puzzling, deep, girl things, and James' bones, heart, flesh, mind, was all for Jane, for James, 'fore God, loved Jane—O, you big, great, great Jane,—James thought, cried, thought, moaned, bellowed, shouted, whispered, groaned, said, bellowed, Hell, hell, what is all this, this about.
Jane, that great thing, loved James a little, enough to pain James as much as nature, cruelty, the world wanted for the time.
James, you are having old pains, as old as the oldest stone the loving geologist finds; think, at times, of new roller-skates, but love, love is with you, and love is as old as, bigger than, the old, big, uncaring, hot sun.
James, see Jane, and shiver; James, think of Jane, and groan; James, imagine Jane, and sigh; it's all old stuff, and as big as any stuff there is.
Jane Terell, whatever she is, is as big as anything now; the girl's great, the girl's big, the girl's got tragedy with her.
Let her be pert, let her smile falsely, let her run gaily, falsely, the girl's great; it's coming to her that she take your bones, heart, soul, flesh, James.
Hooray for the inevitable, hooray for the immense—and James Rowan says, What the hell, hell, hell, is this, this about?
It is a good question.
James Rowan, 14, is great.
James Rowan, of Taunton, Massachusetts, on a nice, shady street, where there's good roller-skating, is infinite, is immense, is infinite.
It is a good question: Hell, what is this about.
It is a good question, friend, James Rowan.
From Hail, American Development (Definition Press)
© 1968 by Eli Siegel