I have beheld it Or grabbed it in passing By the corner of the cloth Of the thing, crying out Son of David!
I feel it in my hand my flesh tastes the texture, the moisture, the temperature.
It is there, hovering Wordless lingering about The places; the things!
How can I say such But to say it is there Not in the words so much Or even now my thoughts
But the thing itself Says nothing to me; and Again it says nothing.
In the stones and sand and dirt and skin and blood and bone and wood are more real.
And the mystery hovers About that time, in the sounds And the air, and the space
So I am there as in a vision In my minds eye I see The city streets and I know As a man knows in a dream That I am there at the end The very moment before it Where all of the strength Of the world is crying out And the air is too thick And light and full of mystery I cannot move, but moving In my mind I find myself drawing near, but each street is empty, and the places of her are poured out to the very foundations And there I am I know it The axis of all things is There turning, over and About an eight-pointed rod I feel I must grip the wood until my fingers bleed and there is a mingling of my own tears and blood
And I feel then that I am As much as brother of the Dust and coal and diamonds
And I know in so many words Of carbon, and the great sphere Turning in the heavens Through and round the stars
But I am no man of humility Who can claim the title 'Adam', formed of clay.
No defense of greatness No lowliness of heart I cannot feign these for you I am halted and held
Therefore I return to this As water flowing to deeps Dread and bright and still The very moment before it All of my senses cry out It is here! And that cleft rift, a moment, a time a space wherein all things Are being gathered.
There is no vinyl siding in this neighborhood And eyes pass from one bedraggled shack to another, or are they mansions of managed life, lived at a pace which wooly eyes such as mine cannot countenance?
In that place on top of the hill, those homes that seem pretty until nobody can afford the Mexicans to come and clean them? I can enjoy them like a man peruses a pin up they look nice as long as the insides stay inside the white-washed vessels that dwell in these tall tombs.
And then one day they all fall out and the trucks come and take the long couches and entrails of broken eyes that weep salt water and the bones of the children's children are there watching from wombs yet to be born and baptisms are done three times in tears of would-be martyrs who die now daily.
And then there we are Amongst the shotgun houses Here we can "feel The pain of everyone" But it is beautiful not because pain is pleasure Or evil good or greatness Of no account
But paint on wood is more Honest how each man must Somewhat wear his heart For others to see blazoned Across his buttress Ere each castle a coat of arms arrayed of angels And nobody lies For long.
On the road to Jerusalem A traveller old I spied For a fortnight follow'd him Until an eventide
This fellow-creature was aged and wan And stopped did he at last Then in the light of setting-sun Unto the earth he asked:
"Tell me, oh wind, a single thing Where shall I lay my head? If you traverse on gos'mer wing To the edge; is it there said: "I passed over these empty lands Many hills and valleys on Only now I rest my hands Twas light work, tis done."
"Tell me, oh sun, a single thing What now shall my work be? Of skies and stars, you the king Over deserts' golden sea: "I shone on all alike in kind Although my lands were barren What then there lies for me to find Where shall I place the cairn?"
"Tell me, oh rain, a single thing Where does it now all go? You pour and slide and roll and sing Can you be he that know: "All those I washed them clean I washed Even those that I washed out Many days were wetly lost With tears of dark and doubt.""
But no answer was there given him From the spirits of all these No kind or kin of human whim The day, the rain, the breeze.
You see by now I'd lost the path Though we were by the sea My map undone in stormy bath My letters lost by me.
"Oh plan undone, my pilgrimage And time is slipping by To forget it all, and quell my rage Where do my letters lie?
"My map and compass, over there? And whence my ledger-book? Appointed I can't-recall-where Neglected, overtook."
So I sat upon the rock Warm'd by the sun And gazed upon the pocket-clock Which said six-oh-one.
I looked and gazed and wondered why I was gazing at the hands They moved and roved and caught the eye Six oh two it stands.
Then I knew I'd company Over to my left The crone had come to set by me All his earthy heft.
"Dear son," he said in deeply rasp "I know you're sore distressed To fail and fall from fruitful task Finds a man duress'd.
"Some things are lost by chance and I Cannot be held to blame Others through unwatchful eye Or sloth are sadly slain.
"My song may sound sad indeed For wounded are the words But the rocky road too leads To where the gentle curves."
With this his hand he gently placed On my shoulder's round "Come, a path is to be traced Before the sun is down."
And walked we for a mile or so Into the dimming day Until fields were seen below A rise of hilly clay.
Here a thousand-thousand flowers rose Reflecting rays of eve'ning Beyond the ox and cattle lows A procession of bereaving.
"Behold my son the thing which one And all find they must confess Is beauty, light of moon to sun Nature's finest dress.
"Each plant you see, has but in mind (if mind we really see) To make a seed, a pod or a rind And have its progeny.
"Along the way are stems and leaves Which all must go to rot To make what more? more of these The same will be their lot.
"But beautiful they are, be warned That they go to spoil Why not be short and unadorned Organized just for toil?
"If you know the question to say The flowers have the answer The fruits and melons and grasses lay Waiting while to chance her
"The form is beautiful you see Makes the seed worth having 'round Adorn your work with beauty's nee You garden will have no bound.
"The difference between they and us Glory in each moment made Is it not so obvious What leaves and petals said?
"And thus you see my song is how My leaves are curled and fine To sing and speak and paint is now To make such songs be mine!"
And so in morning we went our way He his and I my own A song is fit to hear and play Even on the path alone.
So long as seed is born to die From our hobbled hands Let us make lovely each laugh and sigh That is heard across the lands.
I suppose then if I could say About my pocket-watch It least it looks nice each day My number'd days are notched!