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What Way

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At the table, at the grave not knowing
whether to grieve or celebrate, they seemed
to find a way within the stalled noon clatter
and the dusk over oily swamps and elder tangle
along a locked stockade of heavy machines,
as the blue heron, looking down, flew farther on.
Nothing dissolved for them the mortal green
and black in transparent power of spacious streams
now gone from earth. The flickering they found,
terror-hope-terror, in fire of sunset clouds
remained unwavering in its progress to night
and day and night. And yet the pleasure they took
in everything did not wear out. The limestone
quarry of a poorer century, lipped in birds
and berries, treasured up, still treasures up,
old rains beneath its surface of dusty jet—
still waits behind their houses on airless nights
to be the dreams and drownings of new children.

Source: Poetry (June 2007)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

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What Way

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