Littlefoot: A Poem – Charles Wright

Then gone in a blue, acetylene flash

*

The page is dark, and the story line is darker
still.
We all have the same book,
identically inscribed.
We open it at the appointed day, and begin to
read.

*

[..]
Beside me, the shadow of the wind chime’s
bamboo drag
Turns like a fish on a string
Noiselessly in the still waters of morning’s
sunlight.
A pack train of white and off-white clouds
Works east where the hawk had been.
Almost noon, the
meadow
Waiting for someone to change it into an
other. Not me.
The horses, Monte and Littlefoot,
Like it the way it is.
And this morning, so do it.
__________

After the end of somethings, there comes
another end,
This one behind you, and far away.
Only a lifetime can get you to it,
And then just barely.

*

A word to the wise is a word to the wise,
and isn’t sufficient
To anything in this world.
Give me a thing that says nothing.
The wind, for instance,
A wisdom that comes from ten thousand
miles to the west.
The trees, for instance, stenographers
Of every sentence it isn’t able to utter.
The grass that assembles them all
in its green pages.
The dirt that subtracts each word, syllable
after syllable,
Into its dark book, and keeps them there
In ignorance, a blessed ignorance we’ll come
to know,
A radiant cloud at our mouths,
breath like no other.
Whoever would lay a seed of truth on the
table
Had best have his left foot in the stirrup
and both hands
On the saddle, and be good to go.
The wise is without wisdom, and that’s as it
should be,
So many words, so many.
The truth is another matter, and is, like
wisdom,
As speechless as bull clover.
Outside, in the sun, Yugo the dog lies quietly,
His head on his paws.
What he sees he can’t say,
but he sees what you see
and I see.
His look is pure and pitiless and not on the
what’s-to-come.
__________

The little finches have come and gone
back to their tree.
They lay these words on my eyelids, grains
of sleep.
Look for me, witness,
look for me.

[..]

Tonight the ravens are dominant,
and whoosh the air
With their wings like oars on a black boat.
Who’s dead, who’s dead, they croak,
going from tree to
tree limb,
Five of them, six of them, looking for blood
and a place to land.
Not me, I mutter, not me.
Four ducks take off in loose formation like
fighter planes.
Not them either, apparently.
So long, ducks, so long,
Ravens resting a moment above the pond,
and then they’re
gone,
The evening as still and tranquil as the inside
of a bone
Till they return. And return they will,
Looking for what’s available and warm, and
what’s not.
We live in their shadow, and under it,
and our days are
long.
__________

Don’t sit by the side door, waiting for
hangnail and radiance,
The past is a yellow dust.

Do what the wind does,
And let your life be heavier: no darkness, no
light.
__________

The birds keep flying into the windows.
They see the sky
reflected
And keep on breaking their necks.
The birds keep flying into the windows.
They see the reflection
of the sky.

*

I never tired of watching the mists rise
under the mountain
After the rain, like a small detail
On a Chinese screen.
The overcast, usually,
Is starting to break, like this evening.
Into its horizontal whites and greys and
scrimmed blues.
The mists invisibly come together and
dissipate, come
Together and dissipate.
I never get tired of waatching this.
As the mists seem to move, then not move.
They don’t, of course, but merely disappear.
Perhap’s that’s
why I like it.
The light is flat and hard and almost
nonexistent,
The way our lives appear to us,
shifts.
The horses know nothing of any of this, their
heads in a wet grass.
And you know nothing of this, asleep, as you
are, in the distant field.
Asleep, as you always will be, in the distant
field.
__________

I’ve always loved, as Auden called them, the
chinks in the forest,
(He had the deer peer througt them)
Those little slashes and blades
of sunlight cutting
streaks.
Between the trees, imperceptibly healing
over
As sunset pulls back down its high road
And the dark bandages of dusk
are placed on the forest
floor.
I love to watch them thrust and retreat,
blazing the trees,
Making a trail so full of light that no one can
follow it.
__________

I’ve looked at this landscape long enough,
time for another
book.
One less endless, perhaps, a finitude to count
on
And not this enduring verdancy
Amd chapterless blue.

Sometimes one feels the need of ordinary
things,
flies
Carcasses along the windowsills, wasps
Resurgent under the eaves,
Dropped feathers, pipe chips.
Sometimes you’ve got to
face thre dog.
__________

Just after war (the Second World War), in
Kingsport,
I started listening to music,
Local music, east Tennessee and southwest
Virginia,
“Rock of ages” and “The Great Speckled Bird”,
“Life Is Like a Mountain Railroad”.
Like all children, I just acceped things,
and never puzzled
them out.

But “The Great Specklend Bird” was a different
lyric.
I never could quite imagine it,
Though the song never failled to move my
feet to music.
The great wwings shadowed my childhood,
and still do,
time to time,
Darkening some. Then darkening more.
__________

There are songs, we now know, to be sung on
the other side of language,
Our tongues are not capable, however,
our eye’s can’t trill in
the dark.
__________

Sometimes I feel I’ve already told
ever story I’ve ever
heard,
Or even once heard about.
God knows, even those are short enough,
And not, in their narratives, deliciously slow
and drawn out.
I think, I guess, that immanence isn’t a story,
And can’t be.
In truth, it isn’t linguistic at all,
Or metalinguistic either, or any of that.
So stub out your pencil, Pilgrim,
and listen to what the
wind repeats,
As it starts and erases itself,
Unstoppable storyteller with nothong to say.
I’d like to cry out in its book,
especially when it stalls,
On that blank page between one nattative
and the next.
__________

In the darkness between the tamaracks,
the light is bundled like
little sticks.
Like fatwood for the fire about to start with
the evening’s match.

*

[..]
Meanwhile, in New York city,
Branch limbs scrubbed bare by winter;
tiny fuses bumped
at each end
Wait for Persephone’s match.
__________

Spring freeze, and tulips cover their heads
with iridescent
hands;
Robins head for the hedges.
Even the insects back down
And cower inside their hiding holes.
Only the leaves seem cool, the new leaves,
Just butting their arrowed heads into the
unforgiving blue.
How many lives these little ones lead.
I wish that one of them
were mine.
__________

A recluse should avoid the absolute,
and its hills.
Master of words, Lord of signs, you’ve left me,
where are you?
Down by the muddy waters, feeding
the brilliant birds?
Half-returned, half still going away?
Now that you’ve gone,
I remember we’ve had an
appointment there for years.
Don’t move, I’m on my way.

It’s quiet, no words, no words.
Is this just a silence, or just the start of the
end?
Shows yourself, Lord,
Master of What Is About to Be.
Stars turn brown in the river.
We share no happiness here-
Step out of the Out
uncover your tongue and give
me the protocol.
__________

I’m starting to feel like an old man
alone in a small boat
In a snowbell of blossons,
Only the south wind for the company,
Drifting downriver, the beautiful costumes of
spring,
Approaching me down the runway
of all I’ve ever wished
for.
Voices from long ago floating across the
water.
How to account for
my single obsession about the
past?
How to account for
these blossoms as white as an
autumn frost?
Dust of the future baptizing our faithless
foreheads.
Alone in a small boat, released in a snowfall
of blossoms.
__________

Don’t forget me little darling when they lay me
down to die.
Just this one wish little darling that I pray.
As you linger there in sadness you are thinking
of the past,
Let your teardrop kiss the flowers on my grave.

*

November noon mist, gold coins of leaves
Glittering through it as though refracted by
sunlight
Through rain shower,
radiant clusters, radiant
change,

Mountains rehollowed and blotted out,
Car lights continuous rosary beads
both ways on the
Interstate,
Evening already released out over the dark
Atlantic.

These are the still days,
stillness being the metaphor
Out of which every grain is revealed
and is identified.
Finger me, Lord, and separate me to what I
am.
__________

In nature there is no past or future,
no pronouns, no verbs.
Old knowledhe, Slick, old deadlights.
Still, the tongue does not know this, the half-
lit and dumb tongue-

Precision of frogs and grasses,
precision of words,
Each singular, each distinct,
The tongue tries to freeze-frame them as they
are,
and offer
them to us.

Now is precise but undefinable.
now is nonverbal,
No matter how hard we work it out.
Nuthatch or narwhal,
like petals, words drift in the
air.
__________

Calamities covet us, wild grass will cover our
bodies
We read in the Book of Poverty.
Deliver us, blessed immaculata,
adorn our affections.

Language is luckless and limitless,
as nature is.
But nature is non sincere, nor is it insincere-
The language of landscape is mute and immaculate.

First character of the celestial alphabet, the
full moon,
Is a period, and that is that.
No language above to aid us,
no word to the wise.
_______

I leave a blank for what I don’t know,
four syllables,
____________,
And what I will never know.
Thrones, and assisting angel, this is a
comforting.
In Kingsport, looking across the walley
toward Mocassin Gap
From Chestnut Ridge,
the winter-waxed trees
Are twiggy and long-finger, fretting the
woods-wind,

Whose songs, ghost songs, wind-lyric from
sixty years ago,
Float back and exale-
I will twine with my mingles of
raven black hair.
Will you miss me when I’m gone?

 

da Littlefoot: A Poem –
Charles Wright

 

* in copertina
ph. Juan de la Cruz Megias