Distance as the Story of Plenty
If the landscape has a pattern then it begins with your wrist,
between the radius and the ulna where it finds the will
to consider the oak and the wheel before inhabiting your pulse,
the heavy signature of a river, or hollow stubs of cornstalks
left to winter. If the mountain wanted to write you
of the many cries concealed within its famed anatomy,
or the bold and plentiful vision inherent to trees, perhaps
how even light finds its valleys come morning, it would have to
begin by conceding that it still cannot comprehend
how the crow is in everything, the caw so essential to the air,
though it would know the decisive knife strokes imbedded
in the flight, and how it was first conceived from the violet
of the evening, then cradled by the cold’s incalculable distance.
In the mediation between spun gold
and air, the wind emerges
as a clearing among three stars.
Several seats remain untaken there
the windows go on gazing
until they lose sight of themselves
in the sky, shrubs, and the green
joy of sparrows. Someone
has made a necklace from solitude
and someone else has left
a lamp on just in case
you want to find out.
In the rivers that live
behind us, even the ways of timber
have softened though so many
stones still hold counsel
with the unbearable witness;
they roll themselves as if wandering
from town to town, uncertain
who to ask and unaware
they mean death, the commemoration
of a name, of sympathy, of order
and most especially
the firm currency of our fortune.
NOTE: Both poems were inspired by two undated, untitled photographs of landscapes by Josef Koudelka as found in his book, Photo Poche.