Robert Cooperman

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Robert Lowell in the Cab

He was fleeing his third wife,Painting of woman and cab by Gene McCormick
Caroline Blackwood, for his second,
Elizabeth Hardwick, and clutching
a Lucien Freud portrait
of the young Blackwood,
when the heart attack felled him
like a careless logger flattened
by a falling redwood.

One can only speculate on why
he was carrying a painting
of the beautiful Blackwood
while returning to the woman
he’d left her for in the first place:

But I always felt lucky no one died
in my backseat, when I drove.
The closest?  The woman who groaned
to lower her old bones, while she held
an urn, its contents too easy to guess at.

She set the container down beside her
and announced her destination;
and since she kept silent about
her inanimate companion, so did I.
When we pulled up to the address,
she paid and left without the urn.

“Ma’am,” I called, trying to put
as much kindness into my callow voice
as I could.  “You forgot something.”

She waved me off and kept walking.


Robert Cooperman drove a cab in New York in the 1970s. His latest collections are Little Timothy in Heaven (March Street Press) and The Lily of the West (Wind Publications).