In the distance, someone beats
a great drum, coming nearer every day.
This old rhythm we don’t recognize,
the days of plague. Those who do not
learn from history are doomed.
Like birds driven earthward to shelter
under bushes by a storm, we wait
for abstract entities to pass.
Son of man, you cannot say or guess
how long. The clock reminds us,
drumming down the hours like high
surf pounding on the rocks.
I have lived in this room for years,
beneath its stucco laqueraria devoid
of cherubim or even birds.
The days called me out into the warm
sea air, to see the intimation of islands
beyond the eucalypti and the bluffs.
Now the invitation is withdrawn;
at least obscured, contingent
on a tolerance of sorrows.
I had not thought the sweet breeze
would rise and bring such sounds
of the inevitable world.
J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed
“We shall go warm.
We shall go on by the light of our hearts.
We shall burn mightily in the new year.
We shall go on together—
O you who stand alone on the rim of the earth and are cold,
I salute you here!”
From “Greeting” by May Sarton, New Year’s Eve, 1937
Now all my teachers are dead except silence.
So said W.S. Merwin, poet who died today aged 91. In college he was one of my teachers. At a remove – he didn’t teach at my university – but genuinely, mystically. In a way that mattered.
I mourn his passing, also remotely, as a poet and reader of poetry mourns the passing of all poets. In this destitute time, we need all the poets we can get. But Merwin was no stranger to destitute times, and he earned his stripes.
Farewell, then. Peace.
We are all powerless against the force of disorder, the sheer chaos, of a universe fleeing the scene of its own creation. But at least we have dogs.
That’s just a brief note copied from last night’s journal entry. And it’s funny: that looks so much more formidable handwritten in that little notebook. It’s half a page! Looks more profound too. But such is the writing life. Sometimes you think you’ve caught a dragon by the tail, but it’s just a hummingbird with other flowers on her mind.