Lastness

By Galway Kinnell b. 1927 Galway Kinnell
A black bear sits alone
in the twilight, nodding from side
to side, turning slowly around and around
on himself, scuffing the four-footed
circle into the earth. He sniffs the sweat
in the breeze, he understands
a creature, a death-creature,
watches from the fringe of the trees,
finally he understands
I am no longer here, he himself
from the fringe of the trees watches
a black bear
get up, eat a few flowers, trudge away,
all his fur glistening
in the rain.
 
And what glistening! Sancho Fergus,
my boychild, had such great shoulders,
when he was born his head
came out, the rest of him stuck. And he opened
his eyes: his head out there all alone
in the room, he squinted with pained,
barely unglued eyes at the ninth-month’s
blood splashing beneath him
on the floor. And almost
smiled, I thought, almost forgave it all in advance.
 
When he came wholly forth
I took him up in my hands and bent
over and smelled
the black, glistening fur
of his head, as empty space
must have bent
over the newborn planet
and smelled the grasslands and the ferns.


Galway Kinnell, "Lastness (part 2)" from Selected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Galway Kinnell.  Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd. and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Source: Selected Poems (2001)

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Poet Galway Kinnell b. 1927

Subjects Living, Birth & Birthdays, Parenthood, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Animals

 Galway  Kinnell

Biography

Galway Kinnell is an award-winning poet best known for poetry that connects the experiences of daily life to much larger poetic, spiritual, and cultural forces. Often focusing on the claims of nature and society on the individual, Kinnell’s poems explore psychological states in precise and sonorous free verse. The New York Times Book Review essayist Morris Dickstein called Kinnell “one of the true master poets of his . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Birth & Birthdays, Parenthood, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Animals

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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