On reading Susanne K. Langer’s Mind
If leaf-trash chokes the stream-bed,
reach for rock-bottom as you rake
the muck out. Let it slump dank,
and dry fading, flat above the bank.
Stand back. Watch the water vault ahead.
Its thrust sweeps the surface clean, shores the debris,
as it debrides its stone path to the lake,
clarity carrying clarity.
To see clear, resist the drag of images.
Take nature as it is, not Dame nor Kind.
Act in events; touch what you name. Abhor
easy obverts of natural metaphor.
Let human speech breathe out its best poor bridges
from mind to world, mind to self, mind to mind.
Yet, I admit the event of the wood thrush:
In a footnote Langer (her book rapids-clean
like the spring-water aired over sleeked rock)
says she witnessed an August bird in shock
when a hawk snatched its mate. It perched, rushed
notes fluting two life-quotas in one flood,
its lungs pushing its voice, flushing the keen
calls, pumped out as the heart pumps blood,
not in twilight or warning but noon & wrong,
its old notes whistled too fast but accurate.
I read this drenched in bird-panic, its spine-
fusing loss all song, all loss; that loss mine
awash in unanswered unanswered song.
And I cannot claim we are not desolate.