Friday, April 27, 2007

The Words

The Words

Wind, bird, and tree,
Water, grass, and light:
In half of what I write
Roughly or smoothly
Year by impatient year
The same six words recur.

I have as many floors
As meadows or rivers,
As much still air as wind
And as many cats in mind
As nests in the branches
To put an end to these.

Instead, I take what is:
The light beats on the stones,
And wind over waters shines
Like long grass through the trees,
As I set loose, like birds
In a landscape, the old words.

- David Wagoner

Wind, bird, tree, water, grass, light. A group of words, a configuration, a constellation. A territory staked out. Outdoors. How often are we anymore outdoors? Is it in our nature to be indoors? Or is that enclosed condition artificial, alien, alienating? (I have as many floors as meadows or rivers.) Give and take. What I take: light and wind; what I set loose: words. Inspiration; expiration. Breathe in; breathe out. Love; death.

There is a bird in the tree. Light shining on grass. The wind moves over the water. Echoes, reverberations. This text in its contexts. Genesis, the garden, the fruit of that tree over there, the one with the bird in it. Yeats and Aengus. I will find out where she has gone, and kiss her lips and take her hands,
and walk among long dappled grass. So on and so forth.

The light beats the stones. Scissors cut paper. Paper covers stone. Stone breaks scissors. Set the words loose. The light bakes the stones. The stones crinkle the paper. The paper hides the scissors. Scissors scratch the stone. Inscription. Description. Re-vision.

Reconsideration: what about those cats? The cats I have in mind live in houses. They stalk the birds that build the nests in the trees near the water. The birds take wing. That's what birds do: they fly. And sing. As you or I might wish to do. Set loose in such a landscape, like the old words. Imagine that.

Would you care to rhyme?
Or maybe try?
Like light and write?
Year, recur?
Wind and mind?
Stones and shine?

Trees and birds:
Wagoner's words.
What are mine?
What are yours?

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