(after Po Chü-I)
We all have our faults. Mine is trying to write poems.
New scenery, someone I like, anything sets me off!
I hear my own voice going on, like a god or an oracle,
That cello-tone, intuition. That bell-note of wisdom!
And I can't get rid of the tempting tic of pentameter,
Of the urge to impose a form on what I don't understand,
Or that which I have to transform because it's too grim as it is.
But age is improving me: Now, when I finish a poem
I no longer rush out to impose it on friendly colleagues.
I climb through the park to the reservoir, peer down at my own
Each petal a metaphor...
By the time we reach middle life, we've all been deserted and
And I remind myself to become philosophic:
We are meant to be stripped down, to prepare us for something
And, often, I sing aloud. As I grow older
I give way to innocent folly more and more often.
The squirrels and rabbits chime in with inaudible voices.
I feel sure that the birds make an effort to be antiphonal.
When I go to the zoo, the primates and I, in communion,
Hoot at each other, or signal with earthy gestures.
We must move farther out of town, we musical birds and