Foretaste

THE sky stood up around me, blue,
Farther than sight, and then I knew
The river was a blue track curled
Through the pale centre of my world;
The mountains leaned against the sky,
Blue piled on blue, immensely high;
And in the sky a slant-winged bird
Moved slowly like a singing word.
Then as I drove I saw the road
Unwind blue miles; the river flowed
Implacable and strong and wide;
Lifting pale waves, a hurrying tide;
And trees grew up along its brim,
And higher towered the mesa’s rim,
Drawing a black, unbroken line
Across blue sky, as clear as wine —
So clear I almost saw a star
Bright as infinity and far.
I was not body-bound this day.
The mountains pulled me clear away.
Upward I burned like their blue flame;
Then turned my eyes and quickly came
In one sharp flight to colored hills
Where no leaf grows. The black rain spills
Out of fierce clouds on silver days
And carves steep earth in curious ways;
And then I lay, a sage-swept plain
Slanting to riverward again.
I held low houses on my breast,
And wide church doors that opened west;
With simple folk I knelt and prayed,
And in their bodies long I stayed.
With their own hands I shaped warm earth
To bricks; and in swept rooms gave birth
To many a child, and saw some die;
I felt my breasts grow old and dry;
My tear-spent eyes were deep and wise
And sorrowless as star-edged skies;
At last I died and became earth
Close to the house that saw my birth.
And suddenly this curious thing,
Like spinning earth I seemed to sing;
A spinning earth I then became
And whirled through space like a blue flame.
Mountains were part of me and then
Made of the same flame I knew men.
Oh, then I saw what death might be,
What keen, unfettered ecstasy,
To be the earth, not just to see
Blue light spilled over hill and tree;
To feel the rain tread on my heart,
Not watch it shine, a thing apart,
And in all men to be the fire
Of grief and joy and quick desire.
My car moved slow. I felt the road
Weigh down upon me like a load.
I saw a woman, brown of face,
Hoeing hard earth with strong, sure grace;
I looked at her as at my friend;
I saw her turn from me and bend
Over her work. She did not know
I’d worn her flesh a while ago.
She did not even hear my cry.
Prisoned in body now was I.
I looked out on the gathering stars
As though my eyes were prison bars.
MARGARET POND