The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.
Clive Staples Lewis | Till We Have Faces
From “Song Birds as Neighbors,” c. 1920s.
To be alive
To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That’s crudely put, but…
If we’re not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?
Your family stands over your bed
like Auks of estrangement.
You ask them to look you in the eye,
in the flaming aviary.
But they float over in dirigibles:
in one of them
a girl is undressing; in another
you are waking your father.
Your wife lies hurt on the roadside
and you must find her.
You drive slowly, looking.
They lift higher and higher
over the snow on the Great Plains.
Goodbye, tender blimps.
At the end of winter
the hogs are eating abandoned cars.
We must choose between Jesus and the seconal
as we walk under the big, casual spiders whitening
in ice, in treetops. These great elms rooted in hell
hum so calmly.
My brother marching through Prussia
wears a chrome tie and sings.
Girls smoothing their dresses
become mothers. Trees grow more deeply
into the still farms.
The war ends.
A widow cradles her husband’s
the flame turns blue,
a sparrow flies out of the bare elm
and it begins again.
I’m no one’s father.
I whittle a linnet out of wood until
the bus goes completely dark around me.
The farms in their white patients’ smocks join hands.
Only the blind can smell water,
the streams moving a little,
freezing and thawing.
In Illinois one bridge is made entirely
of dead linnets. When the river sings under them,
their ruffled feathers turn large and black.
— Larry Levis, “Linnets”