Denise Levertov


Much happens when we’re not there.
Many trees, not only that famous one, over and over,
fall in the forest. We don’t see, but something sees,
or someone, a different kind of someone,
a different molecular model, or entities
not made of molecules anyway; or nothing, no one:
but something has taken place, taken space,
                                        been present, absent,
returned. Much moves in and out of open windows
when our attention is somewhere else,
just as our souls move in and out of our bodies sometimes.
Everyone used to know this,
but for a hundred years or more
we’ve been losing our memories, moulting, shedding,
like animals or plants that are not well.
Things happen anyway,
whether we are aware or whether
the garage door comes down by remote control over our
recognitions, shuts off, cuts off—.
We are animals and plants that are not well.
We are not well but while we look away,
on the other side of that guillotine or through
the crack of day disdainfully left open below the blind
a very strong luminous arm reaches in,
or from an unsuspected place, in the room with us,
where it was calmly waiting, reaches outward.
And though it may have nothing at all to do with us,
and though we can’t fathom its designs,
nevertheless our condition thereby changes:
cells shift, a rustling barely audible as of tarlatan
flickers through closed books, one or two leaves
fall, and when we read them we can perceive,
if we are truthful, that we are not dreaming,
not dreaming but once more witnessing.