- The Visit, and: The Heron, and: At Trustom Pond
You should get out of here, my friend said, so we drove north out of Arizona, and coming up through California the shape we saw by the road was not a person, the green we saw not the green of the Border Patrol’s dogcatcher trucks, that’s what they call them, cage in the back so from the back you can see the desert running north as they drive south, red-tailed hawks taking off in the heat, the heat like another person—this green was the green of fields north of Los Angeles, Pacific green opening to our left as we drove, green eyes of my friend’s oldest sister, who showed us the way into the forests of Santa Cruz, where men from Portugal used to cut redwood trees to burn, and built kilns from stones they broke with other stones, and dropped the limestone from the hills into the kilns, and kept it there, and stayed by it, and added wood all night to it, so in the kilns it became another thing, the men coming back to town, two days off after two weeks in the forest, girls kneeling down on yellow sheets with moths over their heads, trains calling out in the night, dragging the stone north. It’s heavy, [End Page 40] that stone. But they carried it. And men built San Francisco out of it, and they didn’t complain, I think, as my friend didn’t complain or swear the way I did when the two of us carried the body, Elias— and the stone didn’t burn when San Francisco burned in 1906, my friend’s oldest sister tells me this in her family’s house in Santa Cruz, she’s sitting at the piano to play us sonatas, she’s making us coffee, she’s making us bread, she’s cutting pieces of apples into our hands, as though she didn’t know where our hands had been. [End Page 41]
An Egyptian king buried with a boat to travel in:
wasn’t he like that in a way, the man we found,
the dust like balm if balm were dry?
And like the king’s boat, made to go down the river to another world,
wasn’t he left with what he’d need to travel more, since what he had was after all
all he’d had to travel that far with?
Or a crocus, you could say he was like that, the way he haunts like a bulb in the ground
haunts with what it is becoming, or if not a crocus, if not a king,
anything that’s ever been lost, hurt, discarded—
you could compare him to anything, she said, that’s why he’s so heavy.
But that also means if you put him down
he stops being what he is. Isn’t the honesty of things where they resist ?
And isn’t he, then, more like this: the heron I’d seen twice at the river this week,
on a rock in the water near where I was walking—
when I’d walk toward it, it would take off, then land again a few feet away, [End Page 42]
so Nathan says it must be sick, since the healthy ones fly south,
to South Carolina. He lives there:
he’s seen them coming in the fall, wide wings the color of marshes. I thought the heron
had appeared for me, and the problem was just that I couldn’t read it.
But maybe he couldn’t fly away fast enough, from the half-frozen river,
from the branches extending. Not glass, but the color of glass.
Or maybe he was wintering:
maybe he didn’t need as much warmth as they said, didn’t need others like him there. [End Page 43]
At Trustom Pond
He wanted to know what he heard, not to get closer.—Jack Gilbert
Over the food my friend has made for my visit, fish, bread, white wine the color of the August evening in Massachusetts, he tells me that the poet is in...