As a young man, out back where the trail curls around
to meet the creek, where you can still smell the ghost
of a three-year-old fire - he used to think of novels;
pieces of charcoal we hold as holy, hoping a pen can
put the grit of cinders back into our mouths.
The last chapter seemed to him smaller and further
away, and the goalposts so thin, and the grey plot so dim.
By thinking of things, you could understand them.
The way small animal tracks leave mud holes where smaller
spiders spun overnight webs, delicate, complex, stunning.
By morning the threads are strung with tiny blue water
beads, dewy pearls on finest silk as if dropped from the
neck of a tipsy wood sprite still dancing as she tiptoes
But the spider needs not understand why, to comply.
And so creation needs a habitat, long-silhouettes, and
tall shoes for getting wet, and a courageous set of legs
for soiling and navigation - to feel the way of walking
is a wordless lesson -
the feeling of light falling on strange stonecutting
works incites stranger words -
the wild smell of wet leaves and silverveined wind
is a brittle syllable awaiting an end.
His soul was grimy with miseries
and knowing Life was a pathway through the trees,
the journeyman meant to find contentment by the breaking
of a few branches through the way he came.
There's a familiarity with the way they brush his knuckles,
all past transactions a natural exclamation
like parting crowds in subways
or designated riot zones.
Recalling the nobility of youth,
he wore a brimless half-smile, realizing
kind pity is all that becomes of memory.
Being caught staring too deep, that is why some never
hear the cunning forest,
a silent green world is a ripe vacancy
compared to the season's first notes.
Echoes folded around him like a mantle
in a dark cavern, the sound
of moments struggling upwards
would they always do so?
When every instinct is emptied of sense,
stolid wonder leaving the shrivelled signs of age,
and language but an ebbing rhythm
unfavourable to criticisms,
he had relearned what little he knew of the nervous system,
and that the ego wasn't antisocial,
just wrapped up in itself.