05 October 2014

The sound of the water leaving

                                           By W. S. Merwin

Drinking Tea in the Small Hours

An unlabeled green from Korea
second pick from the foothills of summer
taste of distance and slight rustling of leaves
on old trees with names hard to remember
as I listen after heavy rain in the night
the taste is a hush from far away
at the very moment when I sip it
trying to make it last in the knowledge
that I will forget it in the next breath
that it will be lost when I hear the cock crow
any time now across the dark valley

Water Music

As one returned day of a week the white
canoe is here again around and under me
buoying me up in the evening sky
on the blue water of a story
in which I am part of the telling
the lake is part of it just under my hand
in this canoe that does not belong to me
but is lent to me for part of a season
never long enough and the evening light
is not mine and never long enough
the rill of waters slips past my fingertips
I listen and only I hear it going
I listen to the promises it makes
with the sound of its going from close to me
within reach now by the side of the borrowed
white canoe that is taking me
on the evening sky with the story
never long enough and the promises
made of the sound of the water leaving


Loss was my brother
is my brother
but I have no image of him

his name which was never used
was Hanson
it had been the name
of my mother's father
who had died as a young man

her child had been taken away
from my mother before
she ever saw him

to be bathed I suppose

they came and told her
that he was perfect in every way
and said they had never
seen such a beautiful child
and then they told her that he was dead

she sustained herself by believing
that he must have been dropped
somewhere just out of her signt
and out of her reach
and had fallen out of his empty name

all my life he has been near me
but I cannot tell you anything
about him

except in his own words

From The American Poetry Review July/August 2014.

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