Wednesday, October 29, 2014

W. S. Merwin

W. S. Merwin [Stanford]

from W. S. Merwin's The Vixen:


When I still had to reach up for the door knob
      I was wondering why the Lord God whoever that was
who had made everything in heaven and the earth
      and knew it was good and that nobody could hurt it
had decided to plant a garden apart
      from everything and put some things inside it
leaving all the rest outside where we were
      so the garden would be somewhere we would never see
and we would know of it only that it could not be known
      a bulb waiting in pebbles in a glass of water
in sunlight at a window You will not be wanting
      the garden too the husband said as an afterthought
but I said yes I would which was all I knew of it
      even the word sounding strange to me for the seedy
tatter trailing out of its gray ravelled walls
      on the ridge where the plateau dropped away to the valley
old trees shaded the side toward the village
      lichens silvered the tangled plum branches hiding
the far end the scrape of the heavy door as it dragged
      across the stone sill had deepened its indelible
groove before I knew it and a patch of wilting
      stalks out in the heat shimmer stood above potatoes
someone had cultivated there among the stately nettles
      it was not time yet for me to glimpse the clay
itself dark in rain rusting in summer shallow
      over fissured limestone here and there almost
at the surface I had yet to be shown how the cold
      softened it what the moles made of it where the snake
smiled on it from the foot of the wall what the redstart
      watched in it what would prosper in it what it would become
I had yet to know how it would appear to me

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