Friday, November 2, 2012

A. R. Ammons

Easter Morning

I have a life that did not become,
that turned aside and stopped,
I hold it in me like a pregnancy or
as on my lap a child
not to grow or grow old but dwell on

it is to his grave I most
frequently return and return
to ask what is wrong, what was
wrong, to see it all by
the light of a different necessity
but the grave will not heal
and the child,
stirring, must share my grave
with me, an old man having
gotten by on what was left

when I go back to my home country in these 
fresh far-away days, it's convenient to visit 
everybody, aunts and uncles, those who used to say,
look how he's shooting up, and the 
trinket aunts who always had a little 
something in their pocketbooks, cinnamon bark 
or a penny or nickel, and uncles who
were the rumored fathers of cousins 
who whispered of them as of great, if 
troubled, presences, and school 
teachers, just about everybody older 
(and some younger) collected in one place 
waiting, particularly, but not for 
me, mother and father there, too, and others 
close, close as burrowing 
under skin, all in the graveyard assembled, 
done for, the world they 
used to wield, have trouble and joy 
in, gone

the child in me that could not become 
was not ready for others to go, 
to go on into change, blessings and
horrors, but stands there by the road
where the mishap occurred, crying out for
help, come and fix this or we 
can't get by, but the great ones who
were to return, they could not or did 
not hear and went on in a flurry and 
now, I say in the graveyard, here 
lies the flurry, now it can't come 
back with help or helpful asides, now 
we all buy the bitter 
incompletions, pick up the knots of 
horror, silently raving, and go on 
crashing into empty ends not 
completions, not rondures the fullness 
has come into and spent itself from

I stand on the stump 
of a child, whether myself 
or my little brother who died, and 
yell as far as I can, I cannot leave this place, for 
for me it is the dearest and the worst, 
it is life nearest to life which is 
life lost: it is my place where 
I must stand and fail, 
calling attention with tears 
to the branches not lofting 
boughs into space, to the barren 
air that holds the world that was my world

though the incompletions 
(& completions) burn out 
standing in the flash high-burn 
momentary structure of ash, still it 
is a picture-book, letter-perfect 
Easter morning: I have been for a 
walk: the wind is tranquil: the brook 
works without flashing in an abundant 
tranquility: the birds are lively with 
voice: I saw something I had 
never seen before: two great birds, 
maybe eagles, blackwinged, whitenecked
and -headed, came from the south oaring
the great wings steadily; they went 
directly over me, high up, and kept on 
due north: but then one bird, 
the one behind, veered a little to the 
left and the other bird kept on seeming
not to notice for a minute: the first 
began to circle as if looking for 
something, coasting, resting its wings 
on the down side of some of the circles: 
the other bird came back and they both 
circled, looking perhaps for a draft; 
they turned a few more times, possibly 
rising--at least, clearly resting?
then flew on falling into distance till
they broke across the local bush and 
trees: it was a sight of bountiful 
majesty and integrity: the having 
patterns and routes, breaking 
from them to explore other patterns or 
better ways to routes, and then the 
return: a dance sacred as the sap in 
the trees, permanent in its descriptions 
as the ripples round the brook's 
ripplestone: fresh as this particular 
flood of burn breaking across us now 
from the sun.

--A. R. Ammons


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