There is an easy beauty in the bronze statues
dredged up from the ocean, but there is a worth
to the unshapely our sweet mind founders on.
– Jack Gilbert (“The Secret”)
Even the old fence posts, split redwood
from the coast eighty years ago,
serve a purpose more than by design,
unexpected dividends through a lifetime
that can’t be spent or bartered—saved only
in our minds. I had stopped to photograph
the White Tailed Kite’s extended hovering,
treading air against gravity while searching
dry, blond grasses for the movement of a mouse—
expending more energy, it seemed, than a rodent
could provide. My feet grow heavy now
as I circumambulate this uneven ground
following seasons of grass with cows and calves,
praying for relief of flood or drought, hoping
to generate enough to do it all over again.
We learn to live without passion.
To be reasonable. We go hungry
amid the giant granaries
this world is.
– Jack Gilbert (“The Danger of Wisdom”)
Stark and efficient waiting room,
two plastic stick horses to occupy
children—one pink, one blue.
No ears, no eyes, no manes or tails,
seven smooth and hollow cylinders
molded to stand for a rider
or to wrestle out of the corner
back to the young hen
pecking on her cell phone.
No one seems to notice: not
the thin, distinguished gentleman,
not the gray goatee next to me,
not the woman in a shower cap,
nor the tight biceps in a T-shirt,
all pecking in fields beyond
the clatter and commotion
they ignore. Still fasting
and willing to pay in blood
to get along this far from home—
I want my coffee ready to ride
whatever goes right or wrong.
“The Danger of Wisdom”