It is possible to be struck by ameteor or a single-engine plane whilereading in a chair at home. Pedestriansare flattened by safes falling fromrooftops mostly within the panels ofthe comics, but still, we know it ispossible, as well as the flash ofsummer lightning, the thermos topplingover, spilling out on the grass.And we know the message can bedelivered from within. The heart, novalentine, decides to quit afterlunch, the power shut off like aswitch, or a tiny dark ship isunmoored into the flow of the body'srivers, the brain a monastery,defenseless on the shore. This iswhat I think about when I shovelcompost into a wheelbarrow, and whenI fill the long flower boxes, thenpress into rows the limp roots of redimpatiens -- the instant hand of Deathalways ready to burst forth from thesleeve of his voluminous cloak. Thenthe soil is full of marvels, bits ofleaf like flakes off a fresco,red-brown pine needles, a beetle quickto burrow back under the loam. Thenthe wheelbarrow is a wilder blue, theclouds a brighter white, and all Ihear is the rasp of the steel edgeagainst a round stone, the smallplants singing with lifted faces, andthe click of the sundial as one hoursweeps into the next.
Introduction To PoetryI ask them to take a poemand hold it up to the lightlike a color slideor press an ear against its hive.I say drop a mouse into a poemand watch him probe his way out,or walk inside the poem's roomand feel the walls for a light switch.I want them to waterskiacross the surface of a poemwaving at the author's name on the shore.But all they want to dois tie the poem to a chair with ropeand torture a confession out of it.They begin beating it with a hoseto find out what it really means.
The whole idea of it makes me feellike I'm coming down with something,something worse than any stomach acheor the headaches I get from reading in bad light--a kind of measles of the spirit,a mumps of the psyche,a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.You tell me it is too early to be looking back,but that is because you have forgottenthe perfect simplicity of being oneand the beautiful complexity introduced by two.But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.At four I was an Arabian wizard.I could make myself invisibleby drinking a glass of milk a certain way.At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.But now I am mostly at the windowwatching the late afternoon light.Back then it never fell so solemnlyagainst the side of my tree house,and my bicycle never leaned against the garageas it does today,all the dark blue speed drained out of it.This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,time to turn the first big number.It seems only yesterday I used to believethere was nothing under my skin but light.If you cut me I could shine.But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,I skin my knees. I bleed.
JAPANToday I pass the time readinga favorite haiku,saying the few words over and over.It feels like eatingthe same small, perfect grapeagain and again.I walk through the house reciting itand leave its letters fallingthrough the air of every room.I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.I say it in front of a painting of the sea.I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.I listen to myself saying it,then I say it without listening,then I hear it without saying it.And when the dog looks up at me,I kneel down on the floorand whisper it into each of his long white ears.It's the one about the one-ton temple bellwith the moth sleeping on its surface,and every time I say it, I feel the excruciatingpressure of the mothon the surface of the iron bell.When I say it at the window,the bell is the worldand I am the moth resting there.When I say it at the mirror,I am the heavy belland the moth is life with its papery wings.And later, when I say it to you in the dark,you are the bell,and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,and the moth has flownfrom its lineand moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.