Thursday, October 19, 2006

237. For Instance - Denise Levertov

Often, it's nowhere special: maybe
a train rattling not fast or slow
from Melbourne to Sydney, and the light's fading,
we've passed that wide river remembered
from a tale about boyhood and fatal love, written
in vodka prose, clear and burning––
the light's fading and then
beside the tracks this particular
straggle of eucalypts, an inconsequential
bit of a wood, a coppice, looks you way,
not at you, through you, through the train,
over it––gazes with branches and rags of bark
to something beyond your passing. It's not,
this shred of seeing, more beautiful
than a million others, less so than many;
you have no past here, no memories,
and you'll never set foot among these shadowy
tentative presences. Perhaps when you've left this continent
you'll never return; but it stays with you:
years later, whenever
its blurry image flicks on in your head,
it wrenches from you the old cry:
O Earth, belov├ęd Earth!
––like many another faint
constellation of landscape does, or fragment
of lichened stone, or some old shed
where you took refuge once from pelting rain
in Essex, leaning on wheel or shafts
of a dusty cart, and come out when you heard
a blackbird return to song though the rain
was not quite over; and, as you thought there'd be,
there was, in the dark quarter where frowning clouds
were still clustered, a hesitant trace
of rainbow; and across from the expected
gleam of East Anglian afternoon light, and leaves
dripping and shining. Puddles, and the roadside weeds
washed of their dust. Earth,
that inward cry again––
Erde, du liebe . . .

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