18 Dec (Ammons) (from Tape for the Turn of the Year)



today
broke as if under water:
horizons & dome diffused
with completely increased cloudiness:

a set of four thumb-size
birds
flicker in the sumac
grove:
the sun's a sliver bead
behind the clouds:
flurries expected:

Christmas trees come
stout, stubby, tall, lean,
bunchy, lopsided, scrawny--
besides the kinds--cedar,
   pine, fir:
my wife & I diverge
   at scrawny-bunchy: she
likes bunchy ones (even a
   little stubby): I like
   scrawny, open trees:
like to get inside the 
tree
and hang it full of 
     ornaments:
     I
     don't
     like
those bunchy ones that
thurst you out, accept only
peripheral trim:

chacun a chacun, tho: that
is, the devil with it:
    husband & wife hold
    each other off
    by digging
chasms of difference:
then they have a hell of a
time bridging them: it's
important that a male be
different from a female--
the greater the difference
the higher the charge--
     but if the
difference gets too wide,
the two halves
drift off into alienations:

ever noticed how
dark it is
inside those bunchy trees?
they hover-in the
dark, withholding, secret, 
mysterious:
what? have a system of 
              darkness
standing in the living 
room, recalcitrant,
impenetrable? the devil
take it!

        --or--

I cd think of it as
protected darkness,
   boundaried by
ornament & light:

maybe that's a deeper 
response

than my fully exhausted
     open tree:

everybody to his own taste,
said the old man as
  he kissed the cow: (and
every little bit helps,
said the old lady as
  she peed in the ocean)

10:29 a.m:  the bead's done:

12:48 pm:  everything white:

3:20 pm:  still snowing: I
     went to the
cleaner's, egg-lady's 
& mailbox & just got in:
trucks are whirling red
gravel over the roads:
the snow is holding,
packing down: tires aren't 
breaking through:

the children, let out of 
school, run testing
mounds that look all
snow but are only surfaced,
  scraping up handfuls--
     not yet enough
     snow for
     huge
     crunchy handfuls--

muffled, the highway's 
stopped burning:

9:41 pm: we've just come 
   in from being out:
it's a wicked white
    icy night:
cars slipping, wheels
     spinning: bushes
sparkle in the headlights:

imagine being out
for a night
restless & wakeful with
cold, some child
coughing--or crying 
with fever:

      who are we
      on this globe?
      how & at what cost
      have we survived? 

deer & birds:
are they cold?

      maybe one way of
      coming home is
      into silence,

restfulness from words,
freedom from the mill
that grinds 
reality into sound:

why do I need to throw
this structure 
against the flow
  which I cannot stop?
is there something 
unyielding in me that
   can't accept
   the passing away of days
and birds
flowers & leaves?
it's always never return
for them:
that way, day by day, for 
me & you:

acquiescence, acceptance:
the silent passage into
the stream, going along,
not holding back:

I try to transfigure these
days
so you'll want to keep
them:
come back to them: from
where?
  from the running honey
  of reality & life?
come back:

I hold these days aloft,
empty boxes
you can exist in: but
when you live in them
you hurry out of your own
life:
    if my meaning is
    to befriend you,
    must I turn you
              away?

I stop to fasten, and
currents
swirl around, over
me, wearing my 
structures away, teaching
me not to grasp, not to
try to keep:

why does a man sit alone 
and question
the answerless air where
no blood stirs
and no lips move?

this love, fashioned
   into acts,
   might bring a lonely
   person
   purpose enough:
      what's the nature
of this carrying-on?

generations to come: are
they more precious,
   estimable, than these
   that are?
   can a lip quiever with
   more need
   then than now?

I have a notion to be
wordless, but
   active with immediate
   deed, open
   with the glance of my 
   need, direct,
      humble in my going,
glad
as the thoughtless are:

are we creators in fact
or collectors of relics:
   do we make grow
   or cast into stone?

  

                    (A.R. Ammons)
                    (1963)

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