My father came
Softly on a summer night
An innocence ago
And softly shook my foot
Until I wakened.
I slid down from the bed
Onto the floor
And from the house we walked
My bare feet softly padding
On the lawn.
He did not speak
But I could hear
The crackle of his pipe
And see the brier bowl
Glowing like some secret.

He lay upon the grass
And I in imitation by his side.
The words of unspent evenings rose
Like cinders from his thoughts
And he spoke not to me
But to himself.

“Ever see the stars my son?
Ever lie and watch them
‘Til your eyes are blurred with tears
And lost among their numbers?
They hand in quiet waiting,
Aventurine on velvet,
Without rhyme or meter,
As I am talking to you now,
Without rhyme or meter.
And some would have them hammered
Into animals or men,
Though I could never see it,
(except of course the Dipper,
but that’s basic).
They’re farther than the eye could see
In looking!
That which we are watching now
They gave birth to
Fathers ago.
The images they’re bearing now
Will not be seen
For sons hence.

They say those tiny flecks of light
Sprang forth from nothing more
Than time and space,
And are now merely time and space
In motion,
And so to time and space they will return,
From nothing to nothing evolving,
Though I could never see it.
I say a father long ago
Waved his hand and made them
For his son.”

“Did you make them for me?”

“No, not I, nor my father,
No, nor his.
But he gave them to be mine
And I give them to you now
For they are yours.”

An innocence ago
I ran in unkempt meadows,
So fast I almost caught myself,
I dared the milkweed pods
And dandelions,
And woodchucks ran in hiding
From my laughter.

An innocence ago
I learned of many things,
And told them thus,
An innocence hence.

(written circa 1965)


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