Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kneeling Down to Peer Into a Culvert

Painting by Jean Tay

Kneeling Down to Peer into a Culvertby Robert Bly

I kneel down to peer into a culvert.
The other end seems far away.
One cone of light floats
in the shadowed water.
This is how our children will look
when we are dead.

I kneel near floating shadowy water.
On my knees, I am half inside
the tunnel—
blue sky widens the far end—
darkened by the shadowy insides
of the steel.

Are they all born? I walk on farther;
out in the plowing I see a lake
newly made.
I have seen this lake before ....
It is a lake I return to
each time my children are grown.

I have fathered so many children
and returned to that lake—
grayish flat slate banks,
low arctic bushes.
I am a water-serpent throwing
water drops off my head.
My gray loops trail behind me.

How long I live there alone!
For a thousand years
I am alone, with no duties,
living as I live.
Then one morning a head like mine
pokes from the water.
I fight—it’s time, it’s right—
and am torn to pieces fighting.

Robert Bly

Posted over on Poetry Foundation

Robert Bly, “Keeling Down to Peer into a Culvert” from The Man in the Black Coat Turns. Copyright © 1981 by Robert Bly.

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