Sunday, October 25, 2020

All the Bodies of the Soul

“And listen,” the officer said, “on any morning look down / Into the valley. Watch the shadows, the clouds dispersing”

It can be startling to see
The shadows for the first time,
Unable to connect them

To some solid obstacle
Blocking light and throwing them.
Of course, people don’t notice

Discrepancies easily.
We know objects throw shadows,
And when shadows startle us,

It’s because we realize
Something must be casting them,
Something that we hadn’t seen.

It’s not the shadows themselves,
As things in themselves, we fear;
It’s whatever’s just off-screen.

So, mostly, the embodied
Shadows who are their own things
Glide about through days and nights,

And no one screams. These shadows
Have come down from the Ghost Road
Of your distant ancestors,

Ancestors long forgotten,
Every last one of them but
For their ghosts, their myths, their terms

For our arc of galaxy—
River, road, backbone, way—and
For these shadows, on their own.

I can spend an afternoon,
Watching them wander around.
I’ve grown used to the idea

No local interference
Is creating them. Nothing
Comes between me and the lights

On the ceiling, whatever
Version of ceiling I’ve got,
Sun, office, hospital bed.

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