Sunday, March 31, 2024

Easter Morning

 —Photo Courtesy of Public Domain
—A.R. Ammons (1926-2001)

I have a life that did not become,

that turned aside and stopped,


I hold it in me like a pregnancy or

as on my lap a child

not to grow old but dwell on

it is to his grave I most

frequently return and return

to ask what is wrong, what was

wrong, to see it all by

the light of a different necessity

but the grave will not heal

and the child,

stirring, must share my grave

with me, an old man having

gotten by on what was left

when I go back to my home country in these

fresh far-away days, it’s convenient to visit

everybody, aunts and uncles, those who used to say,

look how he’s shooting up, and the

trinket aunts who always had a little

something in their pocketbooks, cinnamon bark

or a penny or nickel, and uncles who

were the rumored fathers of cousins

who whispered of them as of great, if

troubled, presences, and school

teachers, just about everybody older

(and some younger) collected in one place

waiting, particularly, but not for

me, mother and father there, too, and others

close, close as burrowing

under skin, all in the graveyard

assembled, done for, the world they

used to wield, have trouble and joy

in, gone

the child in me that could not become

was not ready for others to go,

to go on into change, blessings and

horrors, but stands there by the road

where the mishap occurred, crying out for

help, come and fix this or we

can’t get by, but the great ones who

were to return, they could not or did

not hear and went on in a flurry and

now, I say in the graveyard, here

lies the flurry, now it can’t come

back with help or helpful asides, now

we all buy the bitter

incompletions, pick up the knots of

horror, silently raving, and go on

crashing into empty ends not

completions, not rondures the fullness

has come into and spent itself from

I stand on the stump

of a child, whether myself

or my little brother who died, and

yell as far as I can, I cannot leave this place, for

for me it is the dearest and the worst,

it is life nearest to life which is

life lost: it is my place where

I must stand and fail,

calling attention with tears

to the branches not lofting

boughs into space, to the barren

air that holds the world that was my world

though the incompletions

(& completions) burn out

standing in the flash high-burn

momentary structure of ash, still it

is a picture-book, letter-perfect

Easter morning: I have been for a

walk: the wind is tranquil: the brook

works without flashing in an abundant

tranquility: the birds are lively with

voice: I saw something I had

never seen before: two great birds,

maybe eagles, blackwinged, whitenecked

and –headed, came from the south oaring

the great wings steadily; they went

directly over me, high up, and kept on

due north: but then one bird,

the one behind, veered a little to the

left and the other bird kept on seeming

not to notice for a minute: the first

began to circle as if looking for

something, coasting, resting its wings

on the down side of some of the circles:

the other bird came back and they both

circled, looking perhaps for a draft

they turned a few more times, possibly'

rising—at least, clearly resting—

then flew on falling into distance till

they broke across the local bush and

trees: it was a sight of bountiful

majesty and integrity: the having

patterns and routes, breaking

from them to explore other patterns or

better ways to routes, and then the

return: a dance sacred as the sap in

the trees, permanent in its descriptions

as the ripples round the brook’s

ripplestone: fresh as this particular

flood of burn breaking across us now

from the sun.


 —Public Domain Illustration
Courtesy of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

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