When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Thanks to Rosalie for recently bringing this wonderful poem to my attention.
Close to the edge. Almost
bunch up and boil down
from the north of the white bear.
This tree-splitting morning
I dream of his fat tracks,
the lifesaving suet.
I think of summer with its luminous fruit,
blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,
handfuls of grain.
Maybe what cold is, is the time
we measure the love we have always had, secretly,
for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love
for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe
that is what it means the beauty
of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.
In the season of snow,
in the immeasurable cold,
we grow cruel but honest; we keep
if we can, taking one after another
the necessary bodies of others, the many
crushed red flowers.
Sometimes you look at an empty valley like this,
and suddenly the air is filled with snow.
That is the way the whole world happened—
there was nothing, and then…
But maybe some time you will look out and even
the mountains are gone, the world become nothing
again. What can a person do to help
bring back the world?
We have to watch it and then look at each other.
Together we hold it close and carefully
save it, like a bubble that can disappear
if we don’t watch out.
Please think about this as you go on. Breath on the world.
Hold out your hands to it. When mornings and evenings
roll along, watch how they open and close, how they
invite you to the long party that your life is.
Billy Collins is my homeboy. Today I stumbled on several poems read by him and accompanied by some excellent animation:
Billy Collins Action Poetry
Forgetfulness is my favorite of the group.
In winter, in the dark hours, when others
were asleep, I found these words and put them
together by their appetites and respect for
each other. In stillness, they jostled. They traded
meaning while pretending to have only one.
Monstrous alliances never dreamed of before
began. Sometimes they last. Never again
do they separate in this world. They die
together. They have a fidelity that no
purpose or pretense can ever break.
And all of this happens like magic to the words
in those dark hours when others sleep.
The first fish
I ever caught
would not lie down
quiet in the pail
but flailed and sucked
at the burning
amazement of the air
in the slow pouring off
of rainbows. Later
I opened his body and separated
the flesh from the bones
and ate him. Now the sea
is in me: I am the fish, the fish
glitters in me; we are
risen, tangled together, certain to fall
back to the sea. Out of pain,
and pain, and more pain,
we feed this feverish plot, we are nourished
by the mystery.