The Profundities and Other Poems


The Profundities

As a child she spent days like this
in mud, hunting winglike
fossil rocks, or pressing her own handprints
into earth. If she stayed long enough,
the streaming of the stream would start
to seem the current of her blood,
which took its urgent, pressured sibilance from water,
and was like water living and yet not.
Calm did not come naturally. But only
in unmotion could she sense the hour turn the grasses red,
or the first, suspicious stirrings of nocturnal things.
And only in that state did the profundities arrive,
one by one, like maple keys
that several weeks of summer spiral down
and can be wished upon: Time is a substance too,
she thought, and once, giddy with loneliness:
All the words I know I must have coined.
Snowmelt fed the stream,
revealed the meshwork winter vanished with its white:
a thatch of dead clematis, rusted hubcap, something’s jaw.
Elsewhere, humans worked and made their choices,
whose effects were ever elsewhere, ever mute.
How could she know what was required then?
Imagine later, in the dark, walled house,
when some anachronistic instinct would awaken her
and she would lie there, watching her life ruined in her mind,
the mind ruining the life, and think:
There must be things more terrible than want.
Stop her there, on the bank of knowingness,
just before spring,
desire, the overcorrection.

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