“Difficult ordinary happiness,”
no one nowadays believes in you.
I shift, full-length on the blanket
to fix the sun precisely

behind the pine-tree’s crest
so light spreads through the needles
alive as water just
where a fish has surfaced,

unreal as water in green crystal.
Bad news is always arriving.
“We’re hiders, hiding from something bad,”
sings the little boy.

Writing these words in the woods,
I feel like a traitor to my friends,
even to my enemies.
The common lot’s to die

a stranger’s death and lie
rouged in the coffin, in a dress
chosen by the funeral director.
Perhaps that’s why we never

see clocks on public buildings any more.
A fact no architect will mention.
We’re hiders, hiding from something bad
most of the time.

Yet, and outrageously, something good
finds us; found me this morning
lying on a dusty blanket
among the burnt-out Indian pipes

and bursting-open lady-slippers.
My soul, my helicopter, whirred
distantly, by habit, over
the old pond with the half-drowned boat

toward which it always veers
for consolation: ego’s Arcady:
leaving the body stuck
like a leaf against a screen.—

Happiness! how many times
I’ve stranded on that word,
at the edge of that pond; seen
as if through tears, the dragon-fly,—

only to find it all
going differently for once,
this time: my soul wheeled back
and burst into my body.

Found! ready or not.
If I move now, I think
the sun, naked between the pines
will melt me as I lie.

This Issue

April 30, 1964