Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
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Okay, for now, I give up business
to search for the private life of daffodils,
tracking spring, longing to sink
into some sweet bull’s-eye
of stillness. Beside the Schuylkill River
iris fly in place, their frilly lips
trembly, almost obscene.
I take off my shoes and wade,
first one foot, then the other
where the river bares its white teeth
in anger, biting the rocks. I think
of turning into a tree, but instead
I pretend to be a heron, trying
for such beatitude and stealth
that I might show the river
how to clear up its old
misunderstanding with itself, how to
be one thing. Sometimes it’s possible
to see God standing on the bank,
one hand keeping the world’s atoms
from flying apart, the other shading
his black eyes, gazing around in love
at his creation. I settle back
into my own shape.
The river quiets down. Dark’s rising,
stars just coming out
against a navy sky. It’s like seeing fire
through a colander of darkness,
piercings in the lovely screen of night.
Jeanne Murray Walker, poet, playwright, and teacher, lives outside Philadelphia. Her collection New and Selected Poems will be published in 2012.