To be a poet you must write
more than you know, hoping it to be true
that the words will have a life beyond the moment,
taking the shape of their meaning, like rain
filling a bowl—drops gathering into a fullness
that is wholly fresh and drinkable. I remember
the urge, last week, to describe to the poet in you
(for your birthday) how a spear of fireweed
delivered her pale fluff to the wind.
And how birdsongs tangled in the vine maples
and fell to the dry grass like lace. And the cricket,
faithful in his endless summer thrum,
sang simply what he was born to sing, knowing nothing
of the calm it brings us.
I’d wanted words to tell you how, as long shadows
took over the campground and sank into our bodies,
swifts and swallows, stitching the air, took
their fill of gnats while above them stars circled,
beyond speech. But I, astonished and grateful,
pondering the ongoing script of your life,
find no heart words adequate to send. Take
these, then. Perhaps you can fill in the gaps.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.