The Dependencies

By Howard Nemerov 1920–1991 Howard Nemerov
This morning, between two branches of a tree   
Beside the door, epeira once again
Has spun and signed his tapestry and trap.   
I test his early-warning system and
It works, he scrambles forth in sable with   
The yellow hieroglyph that no one knows   
The meaning of. And I remember now
How yesterday at dusk the nighthawks came   
Back as they do about this time each year,
Grey squadrons with the slashes white on wings   
Cruising for bugs beneath the bellied cloud.   
Now soon the monarchs will be drifting south,   
And then the geese will go, and then one day   
The little garden birds will not be here.   
See how many leaves already have
Withered and turned; a few have fallen, too.   
Change is continuous on the seamless web,   
Yet moments come like this one, when you feel   
Upon your heart a signal to attend
The definite announcement of an end
Where one thing ceases and another starts;   
When like the spider waiting on the web   
You know the intricate dependencies   
Spreading in secret through the fabric vast   
Of heaven and earth, sending their messages   
Ciphered in chemistry to all the kinds,
The whisper down the bloodstream: it is time.

Howard Nemerov,“The Dependencies” from The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1977). Copyright © 1977 by Howard Nemerov. Reprinted with the permission of Margaret Nemerov.

Source: The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (The University of Chicago Press, 1977)

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Poet Howard Nemerov 1920–1991

Subjects Nature, Animals

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 Howard  Nemerov


Howard Nemerov was a highly acclaimed poet often cited for the range of his capabilities and subject matter, "from the profound to the poignant to the comic," James Billington remarked in his frequently quoted announcement of Nemerov's appointment to the post of United States poet laureate. A distinguished professor at Washington University in St. Louis from 1969 to 1990, Nemerov wrote poetry and fiction that managed to engage . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Animals

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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