Stepping Out of the Light

Fog swaddles the
trunks and so
delineates, from
a vast of green,
the silhouette of
each pine
on the slope.

Maybe it’s like that,
only all along it was
obscured by what — 
rush, distraction? Fog.
A pine. Querying
grosbeak. Something
shifts. You find
yourself in another
world you weren’t
looking for where
what you see is that
you have always been
the wolves
at the door. Left

ajar, gaping, your own
door. And you burst
in as the Mangler,
you gouge out
your right eye which
hath offended. And you
burst in as the Great
Liar gorging
on your own flesh
and as Won’t
Let Go who shreds
your tendons, gnaws
your femur. You can’t
stop bursting in,
coming upon yourself
alone, vulnerable, in the
privacy of your dying,
bending to pick up
with a tissue a crushed spider

from the bedroom floor,
half-sensing in your solar
plexus the forces
of that which cannot yet
be sussed, discovering yourself
once again already
to have been inside something
like an equation with
a remainder, a deodand, a
reminder of the impossibility
of reconcilement — 
to what? Once again. Forgive
yourself, they say, but
after you forgive
what you have lived,
what is left? You can’t

set aside the jigger
of  the present from
the steady pour of hours
or even differentiate
trails of ants
scurrying through some
massive subterranean network
from the shredded
remains of a galaxy
backlit by star glow. Time

to close the door you think
but your face is changed,
so many crow’s feet. You
must be on
to the next stage
in which you begin
to recognize
your mortal body,
that nexus of your various
holds on the world, as
repository of every-
thing you didn’t know
you took in, human
and not, all of it
charged and reactant
which accounts for the trembling
in your hands as now
you discern the
body of your body — 
like a still,
hanging bell
that catches and concentrates
each ghostly, ambient

More Poems by Forrest Gander