Everyone has their teachers,
I think to myself this morning
as I notice you have dedicated
your small great book of poems to James Wright.
We are all in each other’s debt,
all filled with this inconstant music—
inherited vocables, lost syllables—
speaking themselves again in our mouths.
The squirrel is gnawing at the inside
of the kitchen walls. All day I hear her slow,
determined ratcheting. She will find her way
through to something.
And I have your words in my head,
these words that echo
with his words; one day
you may even have mine.
I turn back to your poem.
Watching is what you do so well. Watching
until it opens you
and the words come pouring.
And you are slow and timely
and do not hurry over the least thing
until the earth glitters and every leaf
is upturned toward the light.
Look how abundantly
the earth scatters her rich gifts—
pine needles litter the red ground—
such surplus, such redundance,
as if she were singing, plenty, plenty, plenty,
while we shadow and cringe,
thinking never enough,
foolish in our small, square lives.
Now here I am to try my hand
wherever my own secret lies,
in some hoard, like the acorns
piled swiftly behind these
my stash, my sweet supply.
first published in Spillway, A Poetry Magazine