A Narrow Silent Throat
How many nights eaten by rain
have I sat here, dreaming of the world,
this world which is, facing a blank wall,
the sound of ruining water?
Or dreaming by day when the dust
filled the throat and the dry light
burnt all strength from the eyes:
a dream of night with its grateful moisture
out of the sides of the air,
its repose of trees and hedges, its gift
of music in running water?
Dreaming in suffocating nights
of a noon on wooded slopes:
breathable flame, agate that quenches thirst,
and the excellent shape of a maple leaf,
its shadow among a million shadows
conferring a just degree
of darkness upon day: the vegetable
humanizing the light.
Dreaming of a life still possible
in an anguished moment,
a narrow silent throat
where one by one, pulsing and shining,
the unbodied elements pass.
Every Step Was into a New World
Every step was into a new world
drenched in memory and longing: these were the dew there.
The sun sparkled in it, the low sun
that pierced the tips of the oak crowns
on the eastern, the far-side banks. A sparkling
that never would leave us, that later we’d know again
in the splendour of a breast shining in lace,
the stirring of birds by the creek,
the fluttering in our struck heart. The sun
shone through the drops of memory,
and the child was wet, chilled
and warmed. The child we were.
He and she purred in nerves and muscles
and brought their eyes close to the places
they could see in the drops, some of the new worlds
of the spot where we’d halted for the morning.
You chose the right path in life
though as it assures you it abashes you
with crushing beauty – like these lines of Neruda
you desire the way at eleven you desire a girl.
To write just one verse like that. To know
the fruitful softness, the whispering of shadows
in light-sprinkled entrances, the female
strangeness of their male force.
As Neruda’s century passed and the astonishment
his coming had aroused decayed, in you it grew.
As the dead fall away, the living is laid bare
more living. You look up from his book
and are in a world more world, and you look up
from that new world and are in his book
more book: another earth, another early home
and childhood. He shelters as he overshadows,
an older brother still a child himself.
You two are orphans, and guarding you through forests
and the eyes of crowds he reaches manhood,
and yet he’s still the youth of the good promise,
alpha point of unhewn roads. You feel
abundance and the void rise alert, tender
as they watch him pass and engulf him – a love so dark
you have to long to pierce it repeatedly.