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ISSUE:  Spring 2001


It’s all come down to me sitting under a tree
on a river bank
on a sunny morning.
It’s an inconsequential event
that won’t go down in history.
This is not a battle or a pact,
whose motives are examined,
or the noteworthy assassination of a tyrant.

Yet I am sitting by the river; that’s a fact.
And since I’m here,
I must have come from somewhere,
and before that
I must have turned up in many other places,
just like the conquerors of lands
before they set sail.

A moment, however fleeting, has a flamboyant past:
its Friday before its Saturday,
its May before its June.
Its horizons are as real
as those in the fieldglass of a commander.

This tree is a poplar, rooted here for years.
This river is the Raba, which didn’t spring up yesterday.
The trail through the bushes
wasn’t blazed the day before.
To disperse the clouds,
the wind must have blown them in earlier.

And though nothing special is happening nearby,
that doesn’t mean the world is lacking for detail.
It’s no less justified, nor more weakly defined,
than when the peopling of the continents held it captive.

It’s not just conspiracies that are accompanied by silence,
not just coronations that have their procession of reasons.
The years of revolutionary anniversaries are rounded off
like stones on the beach.

Dense and intricate is the embroidery of circumstance.
An ant’s stitch in the grass.
Grass sewn into the earth.
The pattern of a wave through which a stick threads its way.

It turns out that I am, and am looking.
Above me a white butterfly flits about in the air,
his wings belonging only to him,
and through my hands, a shadow flies,
none other, no one else’s, than his own.

Facing such a view always leaves me uncertain
that the important
is more important than the unimportant.


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