from Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975)
Unsupported by reason’s enigma Water collects in squared stone catch basins. The land is dry. Under it moves The water. Fish live in the wells. The leaves, A concerned green, are scrawled on the light. Bad Bindweed and rank ragweed somehow forget to flourish here. An inexhaustible wardrobe has been placed at the disposal Of each new occurrence. It can be itself now. Day is almost reluctant to decline And slowing down opens out new avenues That don’t infringe on space but are living here with us. Other dreams came and left while the bank Of colored verbs and adjectives was shrinking from the light To nurse in shade their want of a method But most of all she loved the particles That transform objects of the same category Into particular ones, each distinct Within and apart from its own class. In all this springing up was no hint Of a tide, only a pleasant wavering of the air In which all things seemed present, whether Just past or soon to come. It was all invitation. So much the flowers outlined along the night Alleys when few were visible, yet Their story sounded louder than the hum Of bug and stick noises that brought up the rear, Trundling it along into a new fact of day. These were meant to be read as any Salutation before getting down to business, But they stuck to their guns, and so much Was their obstinacy in keeping with the rest (Like long flashes of white birds that refuse to die When day does) that none knew the warp Which presented this major movement as a firm Digression, a plain that slowly becomes a mountain. So each found himself caught in a net As a fashion, and all efforts to wriggle free Involved him further, inexorably, since all Existed there to be told, shot through From border to border. Here were stones That read as patches of sunlight, there was the story Of the grandparents, of the vigorous young champion (The lines once given to another, now Restored to the new speaker), dinners and assemblies, The light in the old home, the secret way The rooms fed into each other, but all The wariness of time watching itself For nothing in the complex story grew outside: The greatness in the moment of telling stayed unresolved Until its wealth of incident, pain mixed with pleasure, Faded in the precise moment of bursting Into bloom, its growth a static lament. Some stories survived the dynasty of the builders But their echo was itself locked in, became Anticipation that was only memory after all, For the possibilities are limited. It is seen At the end that the kind and good are rewarded, That the unjust one is doomed to burn forever Around his error, sadder and wiser anyway. Between these extremes the others muddle through Like us, uncertain but wearing artlessly Their function of minor characters who must Be kept in mind. It is we who make this Jungle and call it space, naming each root, Each serpent, for the sound of the name As it clinks dully against our pleasure, Indifference that is pleasure. And what would they be Without an audience to restrict the innumerable Passes and swipes, restored to good humor as it issues Into the impervious evening air? So in some way Although the arithmetic is incorrect The balance is restored because it Balances, knowing it prevails, And the man who made the same mistake twice is exonerated.