oxygen Everything needs it: bone, muscles, and even, while it calls the earth its home, the soul. So the merciful, noisy machine stands in our house working away in its lung-like voice. I hear it as I kneel before the fire, stirring with a stick of iron, letting the logs lie more loosely. You, in the upstairs room, are in your usual position, leaning on your right shoulder which aches all day. You are breathing patiently; it is a beautiful sound. It is your life, which is so close to my own that I would not know where to drop the knife of separation. And what does this have to do with love, except everything? Now the fire rises and offers a dozen, singing, deep-red roses of flame. Then it settles to quietude, or maybe gratitude, as it feeds as we all do, as we must, upon the invisible gift: our purest, sweet necessity: the air.
The poet dreams of the mountainSometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts.I want to climb some old gray mountains, slowly, takingThe rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleepingUnder the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.I want to see how many stars are still in the skyThat we have smothered for years now, a century at least.I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,And peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.
When it's over, I want to say: all my lifeI was a bride married to amazement.I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. When it is over, I don't want to wonderif I have made of my life something particular, and real.I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,or full of argument. I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
Look, the treesare turningtheir own bodiesinto pillarsof light,are giving off the richfragrance of cinnamonand fulfillment,the long tapersof cattailsare bursting and floating away overthe blue shouldersof the ponds,and every pond,no matter what itsname is, isnameless now.Every yeareverythingI have ever learnedin my lifetimeleads back to this: the firesand the black river of losswhose other sideis salvation,whose meaningnone of us will ever know.To live in this worldyou must be ableto do three things:to love what is mortal;to hold itagainst your bones knowingyour own life depends on it;and, when the time comes to let it go,to let it go.
DogfishI wantedThe past to go away, I wantedTo leave it, like another country; I wantedMy life to close, and openLike a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song Where it fallsDown over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery; I wanted To hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,Whoever I was, I wasAliveFor a little while.mostly, I want to be kind.And nobody, of course, is kind,Or mean,For a simple reason.And nobody gets out of it, having to Swim through the fires to stay inThis world.
I went down not long agoto the Mad River, under the willowsI knelt and drank from that crumpled flow, call itwhat madness you will, there's a sicknessworse than the risk of death and that'sforgetting what we should never forget.Tecumseh lived here.The wounds of the pastare ignored, but hang onlike the litter that snags among the yellow branches,newspapers and plastic bags, after the rains.Where are the Shawnee now?Do you know? Or would you have to write to Washington, and even then,whatever they said,would you believe it? SometimesI would like to paint my body red and go intothe glittering snowto die.His name meant Shooting Star.From Mad River country north to the borderhe gathered the tribesand armed them one more time. He vowedto keep Ohio and it took himover twenty years to fail.After the bloody and final fighting, at Thames,it was over, excepthis body could not be found,and you can do whatever you want with that, sayhis people came in the black leaves of the nightand hauled him to a secret grave, or thathe turned into a little boy again, and leapedinto a birch canoe and wentrowing home down the rivers. Anywaythis much I'm sure of: if we meet him, we'll know it,he will still beso angry.
On the beach, at dawn:Four small stones clearlyHugging each other.How many kinds of loveMight there be in the world,And how many formations might they makeAnd who am I everTo imagine I could knowSuch a marvelous business?When the sun brokeIt poured willingly its lightOver the stonesThat did not move, not at all,Just as, to its always generous term,It shed its light on me,My own body that loves, Equally, to hug another body.
I wanted the past to go away, I wantedto leave it, like another country; I wantedmy life to close, and openlike a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the songwhere it fallsdown over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;I wantedto hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,whoever I was, I wasalivefor a little while.