Aug 312011

Who incised this river here by writing hard
Forgot to leave with wetted alphabet
The charm of a cipher. The river rambles on,
Until caught up by the roots that shade
My going on in woods, although my coming here
Where river spells and spills into hard wood
Was open plain enough. And that's another kind
Of hard-to-see from too much looking:
Field and sky-- at night, earth-dark and stars--
Flat each to each like paired mirrors with
Nothing caught between. So I'd crawled here
Morning long, the weather hugger-mugger nothing
And the fields off-rotation for bearing crops,
And, so, lively with wildflower wilderness'
Play-day maybe and beginning mischief
Of sorting out itself without the help of hands.
I thought, once, coming this way years back
On a similar sort of errandless errand,
I had caught, once, some evidence of pride
Running through the wild wood gone half-back
From cultivation to dark unplowed bewilderment.
I saw a line as straight as a forearm
Run a hundred yards between two equal
Tangles of trees-- fair straight-- the way
A stick will write out a line and raise a rim
In level leaf-mold chewed even by the time.
All this before a hidden storm the weather folk
Had laid odds against, and, so, I had dismissed.
And then a thinnest silver filter fell
And brought already damp woods as wet....
And I stood in the turn of atmosphere
As sunset brought a gold to all the air,
Infecting silver with light's last despair,
The way a fever brightens sickness to a shine
In eyes and cheeks, and brows grow dewed
With inner causes. I stood thus and wiped my face,
Interested to see such simple changefulness,
And not knowing why I displayed such interest,
Nor indeed why I had such interest to gift
To new wilderness come up since man had left.
But, slowly, as winter eaves will gather ice,
This line fallen before my feet, uncrossed,
Became a trough for an element not itself,
And rose cupping changeful water until dark,
And past dark, myself become as sodden
As my coat, my hands gone home to pockets
Like squirrels asleep in leaves,-- until overfull
Of rain and moonlight. The line laid out
A silver bar, shining from end to end
Like some fresh first cuneiform stroke in clay;
You know how clarity can come on after storm,
No matter how minor the stirrings warned.
But I wondered, as I would. I wondered anyway.
What had taught the line to be, when clouds
Cleared away to re-present the moon to me?
What straightness lay here inherited?
Nothing came to drink of what had swollen,
A revelation strange as rain that'd left it
To puzzle one who seeks for things in things
And wants to know just what to tell himself,
Forgetting weather's made by being out in rain.

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