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On Native Ground

This wind is blowing me all time's weathers,
mingling near and far, pennyrile
and woodsmoke, crow's call and carrion.
In a jay's harangue saws are singing; the swung
ax flashes in a lifting wave; twanging
still in a white-faced hornet's whine
a barbed-wire fence caught in a cuff once crossing.

Seed fallen in flesh rich as woodsdirt,
gone days spring up, trees from sown sweat.
Now is this green tree's growing bark, this always
was and is and forever tree-shading
summer was and is and summer will be.

A waterbead quivers on my hand:
there is a way to enter. Underfoot
a mole's nightwork gives way--O doors
are everywhere: the spring at the mountain's
foot holds the running taste of childhood,
the barking fox blurts the mountain's riddle.
Transparent minnows hanging in green water:
windows onto sunken summer days.

I enter through a fish's eye to one
vast room glowing in cold light.
Out of an oilspill on a rainslick road
campfires of a hundred hunts are blazing.
A dog's eye caught in headlights on a turn:
rose windows warm in his cathedral skull.
I travel everywhere on native ground;
roads turning into darkness turn me home,
plunge me into cool air of the mountains.

Gray marble monuments bending in a graveyard,
skewed reflections swaying on rolled water,
straighten to still gray chestnut stumps,
a chimney stack among old trees and roses
sprawling over tumbled corner stones
sprouting second growth. A new house rises.
Life grows in rings around a hurt,
a tree with barbed wire running through its heart.

from Dialogue With A Dead Man, 1974 ©

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