Arrowhead

By Robert Pack b. 1929 Robert Pack
    Where two streams joined, we met
By accident, sitting upon an outcropping of rock
With only the intent of watching
Water flow beneath unwinding water.
    Facing up-stream, she held a flower
To the sun as I leaned back and found
An arrowhead inside a crevice, which lay there
As if someone had left it by intent
As an excuse for me to speak above the whirl of water
Swirling upon stone and thus
Transform the accident of meeting her—
Ablaze in sunlight with a flower in her hand—
Into stark fact as obdurate as rock.
    Could I have called, "Look at this arrowhead
I just found here!" Would she have thought
"An accident, that's credible,"
Or feared that my intent was sinister,
And that the implication of the arrowhead,
Unlike the radiant white flower or
The two streams merging into faster water,
Casting up colored spume,
Had been contrived by me, certain as rock
That forms by geologic laws?
    She had to know an arrowhead
Is humanly designed with the intent to kill,
Though now it's harmless as a flower
Decorating someone's hair,
Or water organized into a garden fountain.
An arrowhead can now be used
As an adornment for a necklace
Like a flower in a painting where a stream
Leaps past a light-reflecting rock
With nothing in a brush-stroke left to accident.
    And so our accidental meeting on the rock
Flowed by, a flower cast upon the water
With intent unknown, and all
That's left now is the arrowhead.

Source: Poetry (January 2001).

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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January 2001

Biography

Poet Robert Pack was born in New York City in 1929, the son of New York state assemblyman Carl Pack. Pack earned a BA from Dartmouth College, where he was influenced by Robert Frost, and attended graduate school at Columbia University, studying with Mark van Doren, Jacques Barzun, and Lionel Trilling. Pack received a Fulbright to Italy in the late 1950s; upon his return, he taught at Barnard College and then became director of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Relationships, Men & Women, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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