Sunday, July 8, 2012

"All that we see is penetrated by it -- "


All that we see is penetrated by it -
The distant treetops with their steeple (so
Innocent), the stair, the windows' fixed flashing -
Pierced full of holes by the evil that is not evil,
The romance that is not mysterious, the life that is not life,
A present that is elsewhere.

And further in the small capitulations
Of the dance, you rub elbows with it,
Finger it. That day you did it
Was the day you had to stop, because the doing
Involved the whole fabric, there was no other way to appear.

You slid down on your knees
For those precious jewels of spring water
Planted on the moss, before they got soaked up
And you teetered on the edge of this
Calm street with its sidewalks,
its traffic,

  As though they are coming to get you.
  But there was no one in the noon glare,
  Only birds like secrets to find out about
  And a home to get to, one of these days.

The light that was shadowed then
Was seen to be our lives,
Everything about us that love might wish to examine,
Then put away for a certain length of time, until
The whole is to be reviewed, and we turned
Toward each other, to each other.

The way we had come was all we could see
And it crept up on us, embarrassed
That there is so much to tell now, really now.


John Ashbery
As We Know
  As We Know
Collected Poems
  1956 - 1987
Mark Ford, editor
The Library of America, 2008©

ii  Photography BCW
    East Wing

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