All those poems I wroteAbout living in the skyWere wrong. I live on a leafOf a fern of frost growingUp your bedroom windowIn forty below.I live on a needle of a branchOf a cedar tree, hard-bitten,Striving in six directions,Rooted in rock, a cedarTree made of other trees,Not cedar but fir,Lodgepole, and blue spruce,Metastasizing likeBacteria to the fan-Lip of a draw to drawWater as soon as it slipsFrom the snowdrift’s gripAnd flows downward fromBranch to root — a treeRunning in reverse.Or I live on a thorn on a trellis —Trained, restrained, maybeCut back, to hold upThose flowers I’ve only heard ofTo whatever there is and isn’tAbove.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!
There's a patch of old snow in a corner That I should have guessedWas a blow-away paper the rain Had brought to rest.It is speckled with grime as if Small print overspread it,The news of a day I’ve forgotten— If I ever read it.
Tonight my brother, in heavy boots, is walkingthrough bare rooms over my head,opening and closing doors.What could he be looking for in an empty house? What could he possibly need there in heaven?Does he remember his earth, his birthplace set to torches? His love for me feels like spilled waterrunning back to its vessel.At this hour, what is dead is restless and what is living is burning.Someone tell him he should sleep now.My father keeps a light on by our bed and readies for our journey.He mends ten holes in the kneesof five pairs of boy’s pants.His love for me is like his sewing:various colors and too much thread,the stitching uneven. But the needle pierces clean through with each stroke of his hand.At this hour, what is dead is worried and what is living is fugitive.Someone tell him he should sleep now.God, that old furnace, keeps talking with his mouth of teeth,a beard stained at feasts, and his breath of gasoline, airplane, human ash. His love for me feels like fire,feels like doves, feels like river-water.At this hour, what is dead is helpless, kind and helpless. While the Lord lives.Someone tell the Lord to leave me alone. I’ve had enough of his lovethat feels like burning and flight and running away.
I liked the bellows operated by rope.A hand or a foot pedal – I don’t remember.But that blowing and blazing of fire!And a piece of iron in the fire, held there by tongs,Red, softened, ready for the anvil,Beaten with a hammer, bent into a horseshoe,Thrown in a bucket of water, sizzle, steam.And horses hitched to be shod,Tossing their manes; and in the grass by the riverPlowshares, sledge runners, harrows waiting for repair.At the entrance, my bare feet on the dirt floor,Here, gusts of heat; at my back, white clouds,I stare and stare. It seems I was called for this:To glorify things just because they are.
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