October at the Window

from April Galleons (1987)

        Do I really want to go to the city?
	Here there are light and cats
	And birds that live in the sky
	And metal that must be painted or
	It will rust, that causes deep brooding
	Down among the plants and whatever insects
	And small animals there are there.
        A splash of snow bursts along
	Green buildings and the emptiness opens
	Out along my arms like a magic thing,
	A specimen of some kind.  Always
	There are instances, like the sea,   
	The sky, and paper.  The landscape is too long
	For what it will accommodate (towers,
	The lack of cold).  The posthumous spyglass
	Of the author lies, alert.  The works
	Of Thomas Lovell Beddoes fall open
	And are sick and alive, books of iron, and faintly gilded
	In the dim light of the early nineteenth century.
	Someone traveled there once, and observed
	Accurately, and became “the observer,”
	But with so much else to do
	This figure too got lost, charged
	In the night, to say what had to be said:
        “My eyes are bigger than my stomach.”
	And so life goes on happening
	As in a frontier novel.  One must always
	Be quite conscious of the edges of things
	And then how they meet will cease
	To be an issue, all other things
	Being equal, as in fact they are.
	But do these complex attitutdes
	Compete successfully with the sounds
	Of bedlam and the overhead lighting there
	Of which Clare wrote so accurately
	“But still I read and sighed and sued again,”
	Noting in despair the times of day,
	The hair of fields, the way we go
	Willingly into another’s arms and back?
        Wrack bleaches on tidal sand.
	A moth is caught in my lamp
	To make it light the true way,
	Pastel fields where only
	He who comes to save says the single,
	Enameled word that outlives us.
	That there are flowers in shacks, broken
	Mirrors among fallen doorposts
	Doesn’t trip us up so much, rather
	It’s the lesson, unlearned, whose wry whimper,
	Hidden among congruent pages, tells
	The story of how we were and how we were meant to be.