By Thomas Page


Walt Whitman, he himself, prepares to take a portrait.
A portrait of something beyond the Walt that has been know.
The Walt of Manhattan, the dandy pedagogue, known for his tendency
To prefer the physical over the spiritual
To desire what can be attained over what can be inferred
He, the dandy himself, puts on a work shirt.

Whitman the cosmopolitan will be torn asunder
As he dresses himself of a fiber of the land
He, at the passing of thirty seven annals, will meld with the land,
The land called home by his father and his mother
By all of those who call themselves Americans.
He, the individual, will become a vessel.

Walt looks himself over in a mirror as he plays with his persona.
Should he look up or down at the camera?
Should he leave his collar undone to allow himself exposed?
Should he place his hands to affect akimbo?
Should he represent himself or it all—
Emerson’s each and all— to be the Poet?
Should he even be the Poet needed of this adolescent nation?
Should Walt dissolve himself into Nature?

He turns away from himself to find the missing element
He rifles through his residence to find it.
What is it? Can it be flowing through myself?
His desperate search for the essence of America leads him to consider a song.
A song of himself.
Yes, that poem will go in the beginning.
He finds a wide-brimmed hat and places it on his head.

He returns to the mirror to admire himself.
Tilting the hat slightly, he considers how to balance.
A nation of balance, a nation male and female,
A nation black, white, and all shades in between
A nation that embodies all in it and is all in it
The Poet places his hand akimbo on his hip
Satisfied with his work and himself

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