He keeps the valley like this with his heart.
By paying attention, being capable, remembering.
Otherwise, there would be flies as big as dogs
in the vineyard. Cows made entirely of maggots,
cruelty with machinery and canvas, sniggering
among the olive trees and the sea grossly vast.
He struggles to hold it right, the eight feet
of heaven by the well with geraniums and basil.
He will rejoice even if the shepherd girl
does not pass anymore at evening. And whether
or not she ate her lamb at Easter. He knows
that loneliness is our craft, that death is
God’s vigorish. He does not keep it fine
by innocence or leaving things out.

This Issue

March 3, 1994