Copyright (c) 2000 First Things 100 (February 2000): 5,22,51.
Another molecule, this one deliberate
and in the act of forming water.
Why does it bother?
I consult the wind but learn little.
Usually I can count on its salient
asides—1989 would be just one example.
I was apprenticed to nature then,
or so Ithought. I wrote of the Lake:
"I can detect its immense thinking."
Just now a gull observes me
from his long face. A dune beetle
rights itself and proceeds, but to what end?
"It’s been three years since Phil died,"
I complain to the sand.
"Yes," they sigh at last, "we know all
about it. But you lot are ever dire.
Widows, the fatally blemished, the driven to drink, all sons.
And then, in our condition,
the troubles we’ve seen. . . ."
But I was distracted by a low speeding cumulus
darkening the waves running toward me.
"What turtles have you seen?"
I mumbled dully, but it was too late.
Under the waves, celestial night was emerging.
The sun, at the moment of its glory, sat fatly
over Michigan like a pear on a plate.
And all the timber that once stood apart
now leaned together to form a shore
of surprising conviction.
It was the kind of moment one waits for
all one’s life, taking one’s life to unnatural places
for, until the life itself is strange and ablaze.
"Show me the way,"
I said to the endlessness of things.
And lo, a great silvery compass
rose over us all, yes it did.
Present me with something real,
and nothing short of breath,
that inspiration may succeed,
and spirit conquer death:
something I might split in two
while always keeping one,
lying not beyond my touch,
nor doing would be done.
We met—the traces of Thanksgiving prayer
Incarnadined our lips—and stared; and each,
Like mirrored mirrors, dared to ask, beseech
"Lord, can this be?" hope mingling with despair;
Yet spoke of mundane things; feigned unaware
Of half–hid adumbrations in our speech,
Unsure in distance moving how to reach
More closeness still. Oh, Laurel, let us share
A life together, let us bear and build,
Rejoice, recline united, you and I.
Repairer of my life, completing soul,
You are my harried hope at last fulfilled.
May God grant us the grace to link and tie
Each other, make our unjoined halves our whole.