At an unsteering speed of stoppage, Detourned from straight tracks and wages Into a listless field gone over Mostly to pale thick-blossomed clover, A boxcar keeps still its steel rails Going both ends nowhere in parallel. At the blackness of the door A bandit gathers gold once more, Pulling yellow raspberries From some single spray above the weeds, Reaching the rarewire richness With nimble hands and quickness, Palming sunset tears from thorns; The racoon drinks them one by one. Nothing comes to the rusted hitch Clawing air above a gopher ditch, No iron hand arrives to steer And with knuckled coupling make a pair, To clasp its open mate from the clearing Into a sky of tear-streaked stars Where time would hoist a husky boxcar From its slatted stall and decay To paradise, all the way. Yet in the eye of a ruffed robin, On her hopeful nestful throned within Where the red roof caves in From leakage and mineral rain, Glints a hint of levitation-- In her high eye alone it seems A flying boxcar bursts with wings Like eyelashes; below it, everything Lies amiably disordered, Earthbound and solemnly sordid, While heavenly visitors to her nest Feed her safe chicks, and she rests. So much of vision came to eye, and awed. A unpersuaded caw cawed From the litter of the field The hunching crow refused to yield, A black bold spot that picked for trash In weeds gone bright to whiteness. Now only time, for what it's worth Flying still on its changeful path, Turns the structure in its soft clutch Like a moody sleeper back to earth.
Where a single steeple keeps the sky And a scribbled wet of charcoal darks Laps lapsing to meet the day, --Crosshatched by wind's artistic lark,-- Monday quiet's come, as quiet may Upon one meditation-taken; After-silence serves some way For all the echo left the lake. The boathouse goes down to dock On knees of battered pilings. Suppliant to greet common rock, The dock goes flat as filings. Astute, the musing rock Lets the mirror water watch What it has mind enough to mock:-- Searchers who seek a latch. There is no back or access side To such a thing that is all is; And if you say inside, And take inside out to see what 'tis, I'll say, 'tis better far to glide Whatever offered surfaces And decode what pleasure there resides In such interstices Than creep through dark, however wide The open crosshatch seems or is, To pull apart, to peer at tides Whose motives are their business,-- And trouble them enough alive To wash our prayers with their sighs.
I longed for something something like too long. My ablest eyes had two ears of seems-- Each tree I heard, I heard shake some human song; Two eyes never looked but I saw two stars along, No weather raved but trailed some inner storm. My analogizing mind knew but what it deemed. Nothing brought what it had meant to bring, No shape manifest but in related form. Of what I'd been gifted I got nothing, no thing. Alone in life's simulacrum I saw or heard Less than one third of every third's third. All my blessings blessed transformed. Ready at last to be, no matter being's marr, I'm satisfied with sighing is and are.
Like the flower near at hand I grow Upwards by light into all I know; Buried in ignorant dirt by a downward thumb I bend dumb beneath rain into what may come. Like a flower in summer now I grow tall, Concentrate a seed out of all I've been, Put half my something into that seed to fall, Drop it unseen on wide ground, and then Name that something put my all. Is that something put experience gathered in? Or is ignorance all when any all begins? My ignorance decides me-- I cannot tell What seed, in growing there, may yet become Besides new ignorance beneath the sun.
My breast is a burning anvil Cannot hammer a likely shoe Stern enough to trace unglued A racing lifetime through and through. My breast is a burning anvil Full of causal smokes and coughs, More than youth at times had thought, Between hammer and anvil caught. My breast is a burning anvil That sparks with the loss of heat When edge and edge, hard and hard, compete To shape each and each to mate. My breast is a burning anvil Cannot cease to pause or cool,-- As industrious, dedicate a tool As any I'd forgot I forged. My breast is a burning anvil Full of tragic din and error As any beating thing that mirrors The hotness of my terror. My breast is a burning anvil Cannot pound out a likely star As real as evening's first clear At whose clarity I stare.
Something about where the pebbled path in day Splits, or in evening even trines, Makes me wonder about the purpose of the way. How many must have used their footsteps just to come, And in coming here pass on in time, As if all wheres we go are comparable to when. And yet, time's a path more linearly ordered, One whose steps will not divide, No matter at what shady banks or grasses we loiter-- We may not, cannot, no matter how tried, Reverse the going flow, or, breaking it, abide.
How small a snapshot lies in hand That held such grandness in its lens. A perspective granted only once and when. What we see of what is just depends. Bounded by a regular white of lack, I look at the detailed littleness; A thumb occludes a mountain in the west Like a painter perhapsing a sketch on scrap. Snapped charm of vistas that had turned my head, Develops charms of Time new-enlisted To re-focus a moment visited. Out of the frame winces one of my dead; I turn the flat for date, and recognize How loss and tears consume what's snapped by eyes.
A spider, web, and alderberry bush Arranged December in a quiet crËche; The spider's stitching straw was soft and fine As anything that ties us to the divine; An afternoon of hidden breaths condensed, Strung with dew as if of dew composed, A blazing cobweb out of cold mist-- Dew-prism looked on prism, all in all, And saw summer's wonder from before the Fall Until every thread of light was put out by the loss Of sun. Twilit dews sparkled into frost. Each gentle juncture hardened to a cross. Stiff additions of still more strength and grace To dropleted water, by increments erased Weave's living give and left a stony place To which the chapel spider was not accustomed. A rigid web in an alderberry niche, Still and silver as a collection dish. From her holy central belly it spiraled out,-- A frozen wheel or prayer-mat to invite Chilly fervors of the not-yet devout. You couldn't think such religion altruistic, And could only thank it if a mystic And believed all troubled birth a pause Between our cyclings back to Cause. The spider didn't think it mercy, that's certain. She rushed behind her tautened curtain To lay a landed fly into her winter stock And knit the praying fly a little silver lock That has only a mystic key. She sought to bead a new dew to see, Since day had gone blinded down to night, And one more dark into her web was caught. But even a spider with her sticky tricks Can find occasion to make a slip On such transparency gone slick; The icy wire and her dainty claw-tip Met without resistance, though her weight was there, And that gave a tumbled feeling of unfair And brought spider slipping past the fly Who looked at her with all of his eyes, Gave an inch leap, and was gone. The diamond web with ice was diamonded. The spider threw a line to save her pride And back toward the frozen center slid. She poised unpleased, ready for dark dispatch,-- A philosopher at a damaged treasure-latch, Meditating what Fate might have brought In the richness of the fly near-caught, And then what wealth of blood denied, The treasure chest a blank inside. Perhaps the spider, if she had tried, Might have persuaded the praying fly He'd be in for blessings if he died. (Too bad he'd already taken off on his Aerodynamic errand or business.) Wheels within wheels and layer upon layer. Death would rank him up a rung, Nearer You and I as human beings -- Or two rungs up. Yes. To convince the buyer, Persuades more than a hundred prayers, Thought this spider to herself, cool and sly. But there was no nimble buzzer skating by To heed the sales-pitch of the spider, Save those flies already saved inside her. With eight great eyes and eight great arms, And well-equipped to deal out harm, She resumed half-folded her coldly central position As ready for Fate as anyone Defeat had bruised and brought Hungrier for what she had not caught.
It's been a well-worn Year since my iris has gone Whose dark-headed heightened grace Had tripleted heart's pace And made the threatening waters Irradiate the lighter For her being something darker. She brought her blue-black laughter Like an aftereffect of thunder When lightning rare as wonder Makes a landscape dark as murder By its too-much light, and, lighter, Touches earth and sky together. Now the garden, disused and mossed, Grieves green, and I am lost As rain that runs away, As a thought that will not stay, Or childhood song that refuses to play. My iris in her wonted place, Sensed through broken mist and lace, In tree-shadows lifts her face.-- I see her here returned, Nor may I this wish unlearn As long as dew in dawn's-light burns; Every shady curl of worth That my flower had leased from earth In sable richness reappears, Full of rampant ribbon-shapes, Taking all of root and stalk To reach to light, and, silent, talk.
I come to stare at leaves as deep as snow, That have sent the roots to sea, that know A restlessness I, restless, know. I come to stare at leaves as deep as snow. I turn the rake, send tines upended Not to use as I intended But to lean and stare as if deep in snow And hear the restless things I know: Too many things put aside or shunted That had been centered when I started, Too many things a life must ask us,-- So quick a quiet moment will unmask us. A moment's thought, and all disguise Resolves itself into surprise; A moment more of wonder, even more, And ignorance the disguise restores. Leaves unsheltered by the coming wind Rub the half-bare trees where they began; They move as they would there once again Climb to be leaves returned by wind. Deep behind the mask, a whisper knows There's an old hole of light to show Just where we've come, and yet may go, Among restless leaves as deep as snow.