I’ve read and thought all day;
inside me the tree withers.
If I could lift this shovel
and bury my life
I’d do it. I’d walk away
from the whip and the whip’s
song, away from this difficult landscape.
I’d place a foot on either side
of the faultline and listen
for the whisper
that would make up my mind.

Everything’s the same, the weather
we survive and the words
we don’t, friends’ voices,
my own voice, all the same.
That’s halfway, still no vehicle,
no angle on things, no approach to the one
window that matters, only muttering
clouds and the unbitten moon.

I’m shuttling between two lives, back
to back in the same empty room;
it isn’t enough. What keeps
those people going, who live
as if in a masterpiece? I’m the island
they sail past, the torch
they forget to light. I’m the smoldering wick
and the watch still running…

I’ve read and thought all day,
and come to this:
there are answers our bones won’t
tell us, colors the broken
sunlight never heard,
lives I can’t imagine.
Out of all this rubble, every word
I can’t know, I begin,
among these voices with their loud,
changeless rhythm,
a whisper, a place.


© Ken Zimmerman, 1976
Appeared in Plum Creek Review Spring 1977

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