Today I am surprised
That I am surprised today.
It seems I breathed an unfamiliar word,
That gathered to me, measuring the air.
A strange tongue speaking yet in stranger ones,
Wilder music to cling upon me,
Like clouds and gales upon the passive season,
Giving every name to light and dark,
And unthought visions in between.
It whispered, too, of strange desire,
Summoned old regrets,
Almost as friendly spirits after all,
That never would take flight.
All fillips to some new imagining,
And every kind of sudden thing
That once might stream the dreaming night,
But now would dance upon my busy light.
Leaves called in chorus,
Knee deep grasses hissed their harmonies,
Alive to me, they seemed,
Or moving with what I would take as life:
Sentinels for the far keening voice,
That distant one I must at last attend,
Each breeze now a most solemn fanfare,
Heard, unheard, now heard again,
Every falling echo leaving note,
Another prelude rising to its place,
Each gathered voice, insistent marriage
Of worship and command.
I plumb this new world
And yet dare hope for more.
Greedy are the senses,
Filling now with my submerged intents,
Spawned from the uncertain depths
To take their turn beneath the light,
Untethered now and finally free
To fly at last from all untended hopes.
All desire, then,
Alive with heavy mystery,
A presence come to harrow memory,
Revealing to my new regard
That which I once had labored to forget,
Or never truly knew—
Or knew, but in that street-smart kind of way
That answered with sly ease
At every call to meaning I had heard:
The reservoir of constant joke,
The turns of small evasion,
Shades of sundry casual and well-intended lies,
The measure of equivocation,
And the easy acquiescence to all things
That fair weather conviction
Might manage to evoke,
As near to truth as lies might ever be.
And yet I knew they sang some truth of me.
Yet not so.
Not so sure
As the unyielding reach
Of every lingered love,
Whose hold would never loose
The shades of sudden and unsettled dreams.
Ever and unyielding,
Sure, before, hereafter,
Always and invincible,
Though not invincible
A fractal specter,
Whole in these my fragments, if at all,
Fragile as a dreamless sleep,
That bears no weight of beauty.
I moved as if a stranger,
Lost upon the once known paths,
Always walking, ever waiting,
Subject now to all emergent things.
The old joys of the clamorous street,
These are not for me.
Their common music resonates,
Distant and discordant,
Without time or right of place.
The old epiphanies abate.
I tire, feel the world tire,
Relentless in its hurtle,
Lugging its old life
And the weight of all the new surprise,
All one and the many,
Each rupture and each union,
Confusions and the graces,
Every dread and death’s head,
The things that bloom in faintest light,
To trace for me the flow of surging dreams,
Whose bounds must bear the death of every tide,
Where every fate at last is satisfied,
The settling place of cold desire,
And shock of new surprise.
Caesura for the hum of grasses,
Subtlest harmony of breeze.
I am the shadow of these things.
A stubborn thing.
Still well alive in every word
Old or unfamiliar.
Alive yet in these living dreams
That any unsought word might bring.
Mindful of a sometime peace,
For restless shades that will not ease.
My thoughts may not for long forsake their times,
Though passing griefs might struggle to deny.
Those unfamiliar words unwind,
To frame these dreams of every kind,
All loves and shortfalls present now,
To measure, finally,
what the world endows.