A family recipe, a childhood memory, a Depression-era handout
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. . . He never supposed divine
Things might not look divine, nor that if nothing
Was divine then all things were, the world itself,
And that if nothing was the truth, then all
Things were the truth, the world itself was the truth.
— Wallace Stevens
Sea gull quartering the wind. Heron along the shore,
then pinwheeling back, low to the water. Wind in poplar,
cedar, beech, and pine, each speaking in a different voice.
Wind in me, in the book of vanished Stevens, in you —
more voices. Why sort them into human and other?
Even the branches the neighbor brought in his barrow
and piled in a heap while Loki barked at him — even
the cut branches have a voice, though a dry and thin one.
Oh, Stevens, you considered but threw away the idea
that the world itself is the truth. It might have saved you
some trouble. The blue jay and downy woodpecker,
clouds that sift the sunlight into something else,
the ant that tracks the sand and beach grass, six crows
in a dead tree like notes for an unfinished symphony —
all voices that seem true to me. When Loki and I walked
the ravine, he roamed ahead, aquiver with attention,
probing for traces and invisible signs. He ranged away
until I called out, turned back only when I yelled, Loki,
Loki! looked and loped off to sniff another mystery
involving dirt and leaves and a creature long gone.
I could only watch and call, having no leash, no hold
on him except my little voice and his willingness to listen.
All I saw really was Loki’s seeing, snuffling through
birches and hemlocks, over the old earth for remnants
made as others walked, sniffed, pissed, as the buried
water bubbled up, filled the pools, trickled on its way.