As we walk into words that have waited for us to enter them, so
the meadow, muddy with dreams, is gathering itself together
and trying, with difficulty, to remember how to make wildflowers.
Imperceptibly heaving with the old impatience, it knows
for certain that two horses walk upon it, weary of hay.
The horses, sway-backed and self important, cannot design
how the small white pony mysteriously escapes the fence every day.
This is the miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp,
and they turn from his nuzzling with irritation. Everything
is crying out. Two crows, rising from the hill, fight
and caw-cry in mid-flight, then fall and light on the meadow grass
bewildered by their weight. A dozen wasps drone, tiny prop planes,
sputtering into a field the farmer has not yet plowed,
and what I thought was a phone, turned down and ringing,
is the knock of a woodpecker for food or warning, I can’t say.
I want to add my cry to those who would speak for the sound alone.
But in this world, where something is always listening, even
murmuring has meaning, as in the next room you moan
in your sleep, turning into late morning. My love, this might be
all we know of forgiveness, this small time when you can forget
what you are. There will come a day when the meadow will think
suddenly, water, root, blossom, through no fault of its own,
and the horses will lie down in daisies and clover. Bedeviled,
human, your plight, in waking, is to choose from the words
that even now sleep on your tongue, and to know that tangled
among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change your life.
Reprinted from “The Good Thief” by Marie Howe. Copyright © 1999 by Marie Howe. Used with the permission of the publisher, Persea Books.