If you stare out over the waters
on a bright day when the wind is down
and the waters move only to groom
themselves, turning their beautiful faces
a little to guess how the light looks
on them this way, and that. . . .
If you hear them, contented as they seem
to be, and quiet, so that they seethe,
like a slow fire, and their long syllable
is not broken into music. . . .
And if you should carry them with you
like the memory of impossible errands
and not know what you carry, nor how,
so that you feel inelevably mute,
as if from birth, then you will be apt
for speech, for books, and you’ll be glib
though it torment you, and you’ll rise
to the sacraments of memory and lie down
unable to forget what you can’t name,
and the wine in your glass will be ink.
William Matthews