Below the gardens and the darkening pines
The living water sinks among the stones,
Sinking yet foaming till the snowy tones
Merge with the fog drawn landward in dim lines.
The cloud dissolves among the flowering vines,
And now the definite mountain-side disowns
The fluid world, the immeasurable zones.
Then white oblivion swallows all designs.
But still the rich confusion of the sea,
Unceasing voice, sombre and solacing,
Rises through veils of silence past the trees;
In restless repetition bound, yet free,
Wave after wave in deluge fresh releasing
An ancient speech, hushed in tremendous ease.
The trees in time
have something else to do
besides their treeing. What is it.
I’m a starving to death
man myself, and thirsty, thirsty
by their fountains but I cannot drink
their mud and sunlight to be whole.
I do not understand these presences
that drink for months
in the dirt, eat light,
and then fast dry in the cold.
They stand it out somehow,
and how, the Botanists will tell me.
It is the “something else” that bothers
me, so I often go back to the forests.
The trees hang silent
In the heat . . . . .
Undo your heart
Tell me your thoughts
What you were
And what you are . . . . .
Like bells no one
Has ever rung.
Held in a late season
At a shifting of worlds,
In the golden balance of autumn,
Out of love and reason
We made our peace;
Stood still in October
In the failing light and sought,
Each in the other, ease
And release from silence,
From the slow damnation
Of speech that is weak
And falls from silence.
In the October sun
By the green river we spoke,
Late in October, the leaves
Of the water maples had fallen.
But whatever we said
In the bright leaves was lost,
Quick as the leaf-fall,
Brittle and blood red.
For Kenneth Rexroth, 1950
The road out front is all torn up and has remained that way for a long time. One day they
tractor-pulled the trunk of a fallen tree, its roots undone by the doings. Saw crews came in
and buzzed for days like a disturbed hive. I could not save the flowers. Pyramids of pipe plastic
appeared overnight. Rats, unsettled, bounced across the lawns, appalling the cats.
All's ditches, trenches, ruts and pits. A week before the phones went dead, the sand trucks
jilted their loads, shovels clanged, someone shouted Ho! ho! ho! like an unjollied Santa. Yellow
cones mark off the area like quarantine. Red lights flash night and day. Goodness! The whole
country detours around us. Each morning a colony of hardhats I observe from my upstairs window,
handkerchief held to my nose, my ears stoppered with cotton and wax. Today, they were
burning debris and circled the fire prodding like scouts. I regret I cannot make the ceremony,
but clearly this is a major public project with extensive resources at its disposal and certain
to benefit enormous numbers. It must be. I pray the food will last and look forward to vast
and permanent improvement.
When the white trees are no longer in sight
they are telling us something,
like the body that undresses
when someone is around,
like the woman who wants
to read what her nude curves
are trying to say,
of what it was to be together,
lips on lips
but it’s over now, the town
we once loved in, the maps
we once drew, the echoes that
once passed through us
as if they needed something we had.
Despite that you
wrote your name
on its fuselage
in magic marker
neither your quiet
hours at the kitchen
it with glue
nor your choice of
paint and lacquer
nor your seemingly
choice of a seemingly
for the launch of
nor the thrill
of its swift ignition
nor the heights
nor the dancing
way you chase
will ever be
restored to you
by the people
in the topmost
branches of whose trees
it may yet from