The Last Hour

Lean and sane
in the last hour
of a long fast
or fiercer discipline
he could touch dust
into a sudden
surge of limbs
and speak leaves
in the night air
above him, inhabit
quiet so wholly
he heard roots
inch into the unfeeling
earth, rings increasing
inside of that tree.
Without moving,
hardly breathing,
he could call
out of the long darkness
walls around him,
a house whose each room
he knew, its hoard
of silences, solitudes,
doors opening
onto the wide fields
through which he moved,
breathing deeply,
unbewildered by the dead
with their hands of wind,
their faces of cloud.
Stilled and gifted
in the last hour
before the first light,
in the dark place
of his own making,
he could feel rocks
relax alive
beside him, gather
from a moon-raveled
river the pearl
curves and blue
fluency of a girl
his hands once knew.

He could let her go.
He let it all go,
desire and grief
and raw need
going out of him
moment by moment
into the mild
immaculate night,
love by love
into a last
passion of pure
attention, nerves,
readiness...

                     Light carved
out of the darkness
a muscled trunk,
each clenched limb
and the difficult tips
of a plain mesquite
taking shape
over the hard ground
where they found him,
his eyes wide
and his whole body
hungering upward,
as if he could hear
and bear the bird
singing unseen
deep in those leaves.

Christian Wiman, "The Last Hour" from Hard Night. Copyright © 2005 by Christian Wiman.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: Hard Night (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)
More Poems by Christian Wiman