William Carlos Williams


Shadows cast by the street light
                  under the stars,
                                  the head is tilted back,
the long shadow of the legs
                  presumes a world
                                   taken for granted
on which the cricket trills.
                 The hollows of the eyes
                                   are unpeopled.
Right and left
climb the ladders of night
                 as dawn races
to put out the stars.
                                   is the poetic figure
but we know
                better: what is not now
                                will never
be. Sleep secure,
                the little dog in the snapshot
                                 keeps his shrewd eyes
pared. Memory
                is liver than sight.
                                  A man
looking out,
                 seeing the shadows-
                                  it is himself
that can be painlessly amputated
                 by a mere shifting
                                  of the stars.
A comfort so easily not to be
                 and to be at once one
                                  with every man.
The night blossoms
                 with a thousand shadows
                                  so long
as there are stars,
                 street lights
                                  or a moon and
who shall say
                 by their shadows
which is different
                 from the other
                                 fat or lean.

Ripped from the concept of our lives
                  and from all concept
                                  somehow, and plainly,
the sun will come up
                  each morning
                                  and sink again.
So that we experience
                                  every day
two worlds
                  one of which we share with the
                  rose in bloom
                                  and one,
by far the greater,
                  with the past,
                                 the world of memory,
the silly world of history,
                  the world
                                 of the imagination.
Which leaves only the beasts and trees,
                                 with their refractive
and rotting things
                  to stir our wonder.
                                 Save for the little
central hole
                  of the eye itself
                                  into which
we dare not stare too hard
                  or we are lost.
                                  The instant
trivial as it is
                  is all we have
things the imagination feeds upon,
                  the scent of the rose, 
                                  startle us anew.

spoken = Leon Branton