Fred Marchant
| poetry

The soul yes was murky
and no one could see it.
—Adelia Prado

Something of the fog has burned off—
something in the high oaks and behind
the sounds of hammers, ignitions—
a shift outward, a quick long view,
to a sliver of the largest bay there is,

a morning of pinion and stridor.

Of course, you were not one who
was for the high air and only remote.
You were for the light on the table,
the red gate that needed to be shut,
the irritable dog that hears the world

too much, the scruffy fledgling robin
that lands on the trellis, sizes me up
in the way of its kind, and decides
I am all right, just more evidence
of oddities found among the breathing.

At the end maybe you were thinking
of Whitman and his claim that dying
was luckier than we had supposed.
Or not. Or not. Each of us a bee
that hovers over a newly fallen leaf,

o how lovely the flower I do not know,
and where will I enter?

I remember cresting the ancient hill
at Dunkineely, seeing a blue caravan
in the pasture corner and thinking this
is it, all I will ever know of the soul,
the grass uncut, a land-arm stretching

out to the south. I touch it again here
in the braille of small yellow blooms
I rub between my fingers, pass under
my nose, while a snail, with its horns
of light, works its way down the stem.

—for Seamus Heaney, in mem.

Fred Marchant is the author of four books of poetry, the most recent of which is The Looking House (Graywolf Press, 2009). His first book, Tipping Point won the 1993 Washington Prize from The Word Works, Inc., and was released in a second edition in 2013. He is Professor of English and Founding Director of the Creative Writing Program at Suffolk University.

A History of Love
Lullaby #29