|Oct/Nov 2008 Poetry|
The Philosopher's House
It is abandoned, and it stands by itself
in a field of high grass sifted by the wind.
It is old, it is made of maple and walnut,
it consists of many rooms, all empty now.
You can walk up on the porch, you can peer
through the windows. There is nothing inside.
And yet it is peaceful, it is obvious that work
was once done here. There are no distractions.
There is nothing in excess. An old guidebook,
long out of print, persuaded you to come here.
There is a stone barn, half sunk in the hillside,
with bales of hay stacked in the dusty haymow.
This was home for the philosopher and his wife.
He had many thoughts, and he wrote them down.
Now, there is only the wind and the gray barn,
and this empty house, that seems to be waiting.
Farther on is the river that does not seem to be
waiting at all, but moves along at its own pace.
The philosopher wondered about such matters—
whether all things are in motion, or at rest.
That may be why he chose to live in this place,
here in this field of high grass sifted by the wind.
Now comes the moon
that rises in harsh times
of war, or discontent,
or desolation of the people.
Now, under rotting wood,
the soft tick of millipede
and pill bug at their work,
the gnawing, taking away
of all that mattered once.
The nether moon studies
watches redwoods topple,
sees rockslides churn
down vast slopes, monitors
the ocean's rise and fall.
Even the ant, its shred
of dry leaf held aloft,
does not escape notice.
In rain forest, beneath
snows ice-bound and
barren, in sandy places,
or where waters rush by,
creatures appear among
the shadows, foraging
what has fallen. What
hawk has dropped, bear
broken, dingo abandoned.
Nether. Beneath, below,
where life goes on with
clear intent, where structure
crumbles and disappears,
leaves wither and sink,
stump subsides into moss.
Under the moon's gaze,
the pieces begin to shine
with a soft, silver light.