Other Time

There was a life several turns before this one
and it woke to these seasons these same flowers this rain
these branches and roots of feeling that divide and divide again
reaching into the ruins into the treasures
and palaces of ruin I knew the way then
to a hundred ruins I could walk to in an hour
each with its own country and prospect its own birds
and silence and in every roof part of the sky
that was the day I happened to be standing in
which no one who had been born there had lived to see
whatever they may have watched from those empty windows
and may have coveted on the stairs that led up at last
into trees
the clear light went on staring out of the stone basins
recalling clouds and I was in the future no one from there
could have conceived of or believed when they imagined
that they would be there in it just as they knew they were
and not as a stranger too long ago to be anyone
—W. S. Merwin