The Door

By Robert Creeley 1926–2005 Robert Creeley

for Robert Duncan

It is hard going to the door
cut so small in the wall where
the vision which echoes loneliness   
brings a scent of wild flowers in a wood.

What I understood, I understand.
My mind is sometime torment,   
sometimes good and filled with livelihood,   
and feels the ground.

But I see the door,
and knew the wall, and wanted the wood,   
and would get there if I could
with my feet and hands and mind.

Lady, do not banish me   
for digressions. My nature   
is a quagmire of unresolved   
confessions. Lady, I follow.

I walked away from myself,
I left the room, I found the garden,
I knew the woman
in it, together we lay down.

Dead night remembers. In December   
we change, not multiplied but dispersed,   
sneaked out of childhood,
the ritual of dismemberment.

Mighty magic is a mother,
in her there is another issue
of fixture, repeated form, the race renewal,   
the charge of the command.

The garden echoes across the room.   
It is fixed in the wall like a mirror   
that faces a window behind you   
and reflects the shadows.

May I go now?
Am I allowed to bow myself down
in the ridiculous posture of renewal,
of the insistence of which I am the virtue?

Nothing for You is untoward.   
Inside You would also be tall,   
more tall, more beautiful.
Come toward me from the wall, I want to be with You.

So I screamed to You,
who hears as the wind, and changes   
multiply, invariably,
changes in the mind.

Running to the door, I ran down
as a clock runs down. Walked backwards,   
stumbled, sat down
hard on the floor near the wall.

Where were You.
How absurd, how vicious.
There is nothing to do but get up.
My knees were iron, I rusted in worship, of You.

For that one sings, one
writes the spring poem, one goes on walking.   
The Lady has always moved to the next town   
and you stumble on after Her.

The door in the wall leads to the garden   
where in the sunlight sit
the Graces in long Victorian dresses,   
of which my grandmother had spoken.

History sings in their faces.
They are young, they are obtainable,   
and you follow after them also
in the service of God and Truth.

But the Lady is indefinable,   
she will be the door in the wall   
to the garden in sunlight.   
I will go on talking forever.

I will never get there.
Oh Lady, remember me
who in Your service grows older   
not wiser, no more than before.

How can I die alone.
Where will I be then who am now alone,   
what groans so pathetically
in this room where I am alone?

I will go to the garden.
I will be a romantic. I will sell   
myself in hell,
in heaven also I will be.

In my mind I see the door,
I see the sunlight before me across the floor   
beckon to me, as the Lady’s skirt
moves small beyond it.

Robert Creeley, “The Door” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with the permission of the University of California Press, www.ucpress.edu.

Source: Poetry (April 1959).

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Poet Robert Creeley 1926–2005

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects History & Politics, Men & Women, Life Choices, Relationships, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse