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Michael Van Walleghen's Poetry


It scatters and it gathers;
it advances and retires.


On the great wheel
of birth and rebirth

at one momentous tick
turn, orbit or another

it's entirely possible
that some of us, most

of us, who could ever
guess how many, inherit

in the parsimonious interest
of a vast, metaphysical economy

and on condition of amnesia
the outworn, reborn soul

of someone else--some tiny
fierce Penelope, let's say

or, taking breath enraged
by all the same old noise

and stupid light, a squalling
infant Heraclitus maybe-

who must hence abide with us
anonymous and inaccessible

forever, a disposition merely
or merest inkling, intimations

that haunt us all our lives-
as when waking up sometimes

one hears again the surge
and rattling, long retreat

over small, loose stones
of the just-dreamt ocean-

a dream itself still haunted
by the fog-tripled clarity

of exuberant speech, birds
the measured, dactylic

splash of thudding oars-

dark poems had I lived
in the former life

and then forgot? I remember
by way of answer, the birdlike

shadow-writing of the leaves
against a sunlit bedroom wall

and how, despite the scattered
trembling incoherence there--

all that frantic self-erasure--
it seemed something nonetheless

that might, at any moment
gather into perfect sense--

if only for the tricky terms
for nightingale, dawn skies

like ocean dreams Penelope
left unraveled on her loom--

one right word or syllable--
some dim least letter even

from that difficult language
we'll all remember later.