Look with me at what we call, Substantial or ephemeral, All of Earth, where we must end, And all of sky's over-awning All: Sense the sub-stratum and the theme Dawning out of sincerer dream. Note how dark must always end, How Earth's quickened sharps of light Coalesce by pixels until we see Lightly lightninged twig-ends, Dew-draped, shiver and invite Greater light, or light's dark reverse The odor of more crowded trees Blends with the musk of night. I sort my knowledge into verbs: I did, I can, I do, I can't. And other more what-ifs I list: I shall, I wish, I shan't, I want. And a thousand thousand others Unvoiced, unheard. All that puts a soul at ease Enough to stammer and confess The inconvenient, the gulped absurd, Or to think a something mystic Rather too simplistic, Brings the daunting Earth to words, And helps to carry, as you guess, Our everything to is. I kept a million themes beside my bed In a rosewood box with a turtle, With one working tin hinge beside The turtle decaled spread-eagled; I left the springed hinge untried, And added blanks to the map On the warm rosewood back Of the rose-boned wooden turtle. It was better, or so I deemed, To live unknowing and to dream Than know every meaning's means. I kept the box beside me a thousand days, An indian symbol of the Earth, Unopened save as a question may Discover unbidden worth, The way a kiss becomes a question, A new-burned feeling without borders, A meeting, this meeting, --here,-- Solemnly together without a seam In loving and in waking dream A part or portion Of the natural order, Opening and answerless, In a realness of air.
I have been in existential hail Since Noah first began to bail; Hailstorm, shake me till my sadness goes; Strike me till new blood flows. Ravish mind with unfettered ice; Let cold be all of your advice. Thunder down and dent the car. Remind us of winter with a faithful scar. Strip skin to tatters with your kisses, Only, hailstorm, do not miss us. Tear the mailbox from off its stick; Freeze the healthy and the sick; Fill the chimney with cotton balls; Catch the walker in a squall. Rattle buckshot with heaven's force-- I am the target, you the source. Disappear and vanish in a drought To all but me, who keeps you caught Closer than my second thought. Magnificent blank in skies above me, Stoop to whisper that you love me; Like a naked cinder for your use Seize me, hailstorm and muse.
There's a dark deep down in ordinary things Resists our bringing them into view, Or else in bringing them what light we bring, As if to ask the question 'Who are you?' I do not know what answer I would make Being myself, and, so, invisible-- Although I know when I give or when I take, Outfitting my days as I best am able. There's a dark deep down in ordinary things Resists us, the way a mirror pushes Until we're left again with things as things, Alone among our daylit doubts and guesses. I am one keeps to himself, and although I do, I do not keep the dark alone.
As snow and snow will in snowing meet, What slid down danced into a wild sleet And randomly clung, each to each, Resisting ocean's disassembling touch That undoes the individual who falls And in that fall returns to ocean's all. There was nothing there in what was of sky, No help of light to help say why, Only usurpation's snow-deadened hiss That ended each self-formed singleness Distilled from upper vagueness and the cold. They did not fall because they had been told. They fell because there was nothing else to do But fall, and this the ocean knew.
It lay self-entangled, curled as ramshorns, --And pushed the belly into being mother-- Who, to be herself, had first to the Other,-- Which looked as if it didn't want being born. Its sideways was more, and worse, than backwards. It had to be sawn out to be itself a lamb, Startle the clover and bleat "I am." The bowie knife came handy without a word. A tense scarlet torn sort of giving-in, A clattering shape cauled on scattered straw, Ungainly upright legs besides the ewe's, Shook me wet and bellowed out of pain. What had come too soon would need a mother's milk. I pulled all night through wetness with raw silk.
I look into the portions of my thought, cold and dull. Wheel in wheel unsettles the quiet mill asleep And puts an uneasy harness on all I feel. The river like a clock runs fast and deep. Soon there will be paper, deep and white. Wet slush from the chute, heaps of pulp and dust, Driven by the living water to be a blank in sight. A haaing gear gives my cheek a buss. I pole a belt to the drive shaft, and all begins-- Horses in wheels turn, turn in their dreams; Floorboards shake with purpose, dark and dim. The razor nibs of the saw-wheel start a seam. I weep, weep for sleep and do as I must. I look into the cold dull portions of my thought.
The provident power of hurt and harm The provenance of an eye ingathers, (Its certain witness of a moment's charm That lightly changes a life forever), Bluely demonstrates in this morning glory That measures us, our smallness and our fear, With too blue an eye to ever bear Until a touch of night shuts its story. Then we dream, with a certain sort of blue rue, And wonder in sleep's deep wanderment If the sun will show us what to do Or if dreaming can tell us what we meant. An eye perhaps has followed us all day through, But we do not know the eye's intent.
Having grown long words in fieldgrass daylong, I stepped into a wooded brook to dip Ink-worded hands into the snickering quips Offered up by the silverquick stream; I wondered just what the water had meant to mean, Whose loose stones insist the water into song. Many times I had lost what footing I had felt, Suddenly cried out, or laughed in despair, By hard wet things beneath thrown over, Raw agony raised to the eloquence of a welt; And, with water in my mouth, I'd often remarked The sincerer operations of the lark, Spilling a slippery noise above taciturn rocks That break bones and never forget.
Three dark junipers shadow where time stood, Representative of my brothers and Myself, from earth and water grown to good Plain wood on the township's public land. Huddled under them by the neighboring pond Fireworks cracked to color July the Fourth; We then, as I now, beside the dawn-like mud Stood every year we'd been on earth, Three stranger brothers our divided folks Reaped as seedlings from the brick adoption house Into a home too shy and shamed for such a name. Now torn away ourselves to spouses And lives, from rooted things by time unyolked, I stand between the trees without a name.