The preacher enters the pulpit. The waiting watchful befriend her like a cloak. In the round silence of those before her she breathes — in, out, in. But this moment! Perfect communion lies within her, just as the infinite bowl of the sky and the sea — arms open — enjoy their widest horizon. A poet lays down a line, scrubs it out, tugs a thread of memory up to the light, tests its tensile strength, rappelling down the sheer face of terror — almost delight. On the sea cliff a diver waits, counting the waves, marking his breaths, holding this moment — all heart and bones — as near to prayer as the cry of a newborn. Each one enters Creation innocent of the abyss, the leap itself containing all.
Let us be true, truly be, let us be. That was the refrain I sang under the moon I lost some months ago. There it was at last, low above the trees, the trees black and still, the birds silent, only a car passing on the road behind me, not staying. I know this moment contains worlds, universes even, possibilities unheard of. This moment, then the next, and the one after that; I will count them out carefully. Thoreau says, "All change is a miracle to contemplate, a miracle happening every moment." The asters I planted on faith in April have bloomed so bluely, so proudly, so briefly. They are sighing now as they lie down in this October morning. I am counting now — No! I have ceased counting — to take this moment as itself complete, so full as the moon, which I had lost, now waning behind me.
I am reading poetry these days more than I read the news. I gather armfuls of poetry: Whitman, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Yeats — Whitman again. I scoop up handfuls of Glück and Rilke; they must be pored over, examined in the hand, turned over like seeds and nuts in the palm, rationed carefully. I take a pinch of Emily: a little bit seasons the stew. She is the salt that brings up the flavor of these potato days and the sigh of attention to the diamond ground upon which I walk. There is Milosz and Szymborska and Herbert — both Zbigniew and George — Heaney, Hill, and Kavanaugh, Neruda, Bishop, Olds, Harjo, and Frost. Always Frost, even in summer. Collins, Stafford, Kooser, Hirshfield, Basho, Beowulf, Sidney, and Howe. Shakespeare then and again and now; Larkin, Levertov, Wiman, and Brooks. Am I Donne (not yet) or Job or the Psalmist? St. Paul on a good day, St. John's Chapter One, Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Solomon's Song? Or Morrison, Clifton, Hayden or Hughes? I am reading poetry more than the news, for the news does not change; it's not new. But the poetry I read can be read more than once, gathered in armfuls, held in the hand, salted and savored and sung on demand, and carried like water in these desert lands.