Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Poet: Galway Kinnell, "Another Night in the Ruins"

"Another Night in the Ruins"

"In the evening 
haze darkening on the hills, 
purple of the eternal, 
a last bird crosses over, 
‘flop flop,’ adoring 
only the instant.

Nine years ago, 
in a plane that rumbled all night 
above the Atlantic, 
I could see, lit up 
by lightning bolts jumping out of it, 
a thunderhead formed like the face 
of my brother, looking down 
on blue, 
lightning-flashed moments of the Atlantic.

 He used to tell me, 
“What good is the day? 
On some hill of despair 
the bonfire 
you kindle can light the great sky-
though it’s true, of course, to make it burn 
you have to throw yourself in...”

Wind tears itself hollow 
in the eaves of these ruins, 
ghost-flute of snowdrifts 
that build out there in the dark: 
upside-down ravines 
into which night sweeps 
our cast wings, our ink-spattered feathers.

I listen. 
I hear nothing. Only 
the cow, the cow of such 
hollowness, mooing 
down the bones.

Is that a 
rooster? He 
thrashes in the snow 
for a grain. 
Finds it. 
Rips it into flames.
 Flaps. Crows. 
Flames bursting out of his brow.

 How many nights must it take 
one such as me to learn 
that we aren’t, after all, made 
from that bird that flies out of its ashes, 
that for us 
as we go up in flames, 
our one work is 
to open ourselves,
 to be the flames?"

Galway Kinnell

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