To see is this other torture, atoned for
In the pain of being seen: the spoken,
The seen, contained in the refusal
To speak, and the seed of a single voice,
Buried in a random stone.
My lies have never belonged to me.
grain on the peak
to nothing and,
by a mountain,
has no burden,
ready to float,
to summit wind,
the rigors of having
figure to complete
to guide its dreaming
… dusk… sitting staring at her hand… there in her lap… palm upward… suddenly saw it wet… the palm… tears presumably… hers presumably… no one else for miles… no sound… just the tears… sat and watched them dry…
Black on flat water past the jonquil lawns
Riding, the black swan draws
A private chaos warbling in its wake,
Assuming, like a fourth dimension, splendor
That calls the child with white ideas of swans
Nearer to that green lake
Where every paradox means wonder.
Though the black swan’s arched neck is like
A question-mark on the lake,
The swan outlaws all possible questioning:
A thing in itself, like love, like submarine
Disaster, or the first sound when we wake;
And the swan-song it sings
Is the huge silence of the swan.
Illusion: the black swan knows how to break
Through expectation, beak
Aimed now at its own breast, now at its image,
And move across our lives, if the lake is life,
And by the gentlest turning of its neck
Transform, in time, time’s damage;
To less than a black plume, time’s grief.
Enchanter: the black swan has learned to enter
Sorrow’s lost secret center
Where like a maypole separate tragedies
Are wound about a tower of ribbons, and where
The central hollowness is that pure winter
That does not change but is
Always brilliant ice and air.
Always the black swan moves on the lake; always
The blond child stands to gaze
As the tall emblem pivots and rides out
To the opposite side, always. The child upon
The bank, hands full of difficult marvels, stays
Forever to cry aloud
In anguish: I love the black swan.
But now he knows these hills, that is to say he knows them better, and if ever again he sees them from afar it will be I think with other eyes, and not only that but the within, all that inner space one never sees, the brain and heart and other caverns where thought and feeling dance their sabbath, all that too quite differently disposed.
History has to live with what was here,
clutching and close to fumbling all we had—
it is so dull and gruesome how we die,
unlike writing, life never finishes.
Abel was finished; death is not remote,
a flash-in-the-pan electrifies the skeptic,
his cows crowding like skulls against high-voltage wire,
his baby crying all night like a new machine.
As in our Bibles, white-faced, predatory,
the beautiful, mist-drunken hunter’s moon ascends—
a child could give it a face: two holes, two holes,
my eyes, my mouth, between them a skull’s no-nose—
O there’s a terrifying innocence in my face
drenched with the silver salvage of the mornfrost.