Room for one and all
around the gathering ball,
to hold the sacred thread,
to hold and wind and pull.
Sit in the common term.
All hands now move as one.
The work continues on.
The task is never done.
When I Think
When I think of where I’ve come from
or even try to measure as any kind of
distance those places, all the various
people, and all the ways in which I re-
member them, so that even the skin I
touched or was myself fact of, inside,
could see through like a hole in the wall
or listen to, it must have been, to what
was going on in there, even if I was still
too dumb to know anything – When I think
of the miles and miles of roads, of meals,
of telephone wires even, or even of water
poured out in endless streams down streaks
of black sky or the dirt roads washed clean,
or myriad, salty tears and suddenly it’s spring
again, or it was – Even when I think again of
all those I treated so poorly, names, places,
their waiting uselessly for me in the rain and
I never came, was never really there at all,
was moving confusedly, so fast, so driven
like a car along some empty highway passing,
passing other cars – When I try to think of
things, of what’s happened, of what a life is
and was, my life, when I wonder what it meant,
the sad days passing, the continuing, echoing deaths,
all the painful, belligerent news, and the dog still
waiting to be fed, the closeness of you sleeping, voices,
presences, of children, of our grown children,
the shining, bright sun, the smell of the air just now,
each physical moment passing, passing, it’s what
it always is or ever was, just then, just there.
From On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay (U California Press, 2006).