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Seeing My Son
Sailing to Kansas
Winter Trees

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Sailing to Kansas

This is the country for old men: I need
A laxative, a purge, a tube and bag
To let it flow, a catheter to bleed
My heart, to turn that heavy piece of slag
To gold, a golden bird, finally freed
To go wild, or at least on a crying jag.
I'm crabbed. I'm old. I've held it in so long,
You wouldn't recognize me by its song.

Me, me! I'm trying to get away from that.
Me is the country that I'm in. It stops.
Out there, the trees bristle, shed of their fat,
Rising over the shards of this year's crops.
I walk these fields at dusk, and something — a bat?
A golden bird? — swoops by me, close, and drops
Downward to darkness where I'm not, a wave
Of feeling breaking behind it, breeze from a cave,

Opening, opening, grand upheaval of rocks,
Uprooted trees, fire and ice, my soul
Booming, expanding to the horizon, vox
Humana made of air, pure air, the hole
That was me a poem, a lost chorale of Bach's,
An ecstasy of such wide range a whole
Flock goes swarming into the night, unknown
To anyone. I'm after all alone.

Back home, I am depressed. I do not speak
Except through an interpreter. "Who cares?"
The adolescent sulks; the babies shriek
And run amok; a sitcom rerun blares
From the tube; my wife chops onions; the bird's beak
Pecks at my heart. Should I go mad? Break chairs?
Do my version of the widening gyre?
The empty mind of God? The Mormon choir?

Common, how things live, how a dog will bark
At sounds two blocks away. How a tiny chain
Creates the bright song of a meadowlark.
How worms have brains. How the human brain
Has roots that run so deep, its layers of bark
Just seem to be hiding what we seek in vain.
The emperor is sleeping in the ground.
Common, how kids are born. How they resound.

Published in Defined Providence, 1995