[ToC]

 

THE NARROW ROAD TOWARD

C Dylan Bassett

 

 

kept in the fragments

          of the open field

the keeper left unkept

          the beehive and hum

the attendant bees

          I was (was I) enclosed by

which (or whom)

          I sought (seeking me)

 

          *

 

a mountain half the size

           and quietly

as daybreak

          of the hawk going

above it (to which it

          it is only a point)

is clouds in the sky

 

          *

 

what good does a memory

          of the garden here

(half dead) (half place)

          (half thinking

the place) do to remain

           aware of me

the obscurest moon

          illuminating obscurity

 

          *

 

summer had been

          like a perfection

of thought the small birds

          what survived knowing

amid a colorless sky

          where to find the water

 

          *

 

the day is footsteps

          steps outside the day

rising in the subjunctive

          the shape (of god)

where none should

          be (was)

 

          *

 

the distances go and go

          while the moon (I

feel it in my teeth) holds

          hammer-like

in semblance

          just vague

enough to gather gold

          in the earth by

 

          *

 

because light is not

          something you see

exactly the day rears up

          its question mark:

what (or whom) I've known

          I no longer do

like water in the desert

          turning into thirst

 

          *

 

it struck me in my outlook

           light seizing form

(like the rain

          reflecting it)

there is no place

          that cannot see me

in the error of

          my (not) seeing you

 

          *

 

or else it is not you

          (seeking) (being sought)

or else I have survived

          the idea that made me

(having tasted the root

          of my own tongue)

 

          *

 

it's different to hear

          (a voice)

there is no one else

          from behind me

as if in a photograph

          that rhymes

(itself a sound

          not human)

with music

 

          *

 

the threat of emptiness

          ensures (its own)

containment (endless sky

          not unlike a wall)

a mass without a form

          is itself (one)

 

          *

 

after you left was

          windy every day

if every day was

          where I dwelled

in not why but whether

          I was alone

 

          *

(it) like the moon goes

          only one way

resembling nothing else

          (or nothing itself

or that which is most

          unlike it) nearly

invisible enough

          to watch me

 

          *

 

and/or so tired

          I was of the world

formerly described

          to me (or that

to which you (a pronoun

          permitting) cannot

be mended

 

          *

 

lead (or having been) by no

          (remaining itself

not exactly a self) (a

          hummingbird of air)

one toward a home

          not yet remembered

(already the desert

          becoming reality)

 

          *

 

the desert (and thus it sticks

          to the eye)

is a good landscape

          to remember creation

is of all the oldest error

          (whichever way I go

was once an ocean)

 

 

 

__

When I wrote this poem, I was living out of my car in the Mojave desert. I was alone, or almost alone. I'd been reading Paul Celan and Robert Alter's translation of The Book of Psalms.