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More poems by Philip LevinePhilip Levine | Print this page.Print | View and Write CommentsComments | Books by Philip LevineBooks by Philip Levine

Any Night

Philip Levine

Look, the eucalyptus, the Atlas pine, 
the yellowing ash, all the trees 
are gone, and I was older than 
all of them. I am older than the moon, 
than the stars that fill my plate, 
than the unseen planets that huddle 
together here at the end of a year 
no one wanted. A year more than a year, 
in which the sparrows learned 
to fly backwards into eternity. 
Their brothers and sisters saw this 
and refuse to build nests. Before 
the week is over they will all 
have gone, and the chorus of love 
that filled my yard and spilled 
into my kitchen each evening 
will be gone. I will have to learn 
to sing in the voices of pure joy 
and pure pain. I will have to forget 
my name, my childhood, the years 
under the cold dominion of the clock 
so that this voice, torn and cracked, 
can reach the low hills that shielded 
the orange trees once. I will stand 
on the back porch as the cold 
drifts in, and sing, not for joy, 
not for love, not even to be heard. 
I will sing so that the darkness 
can take hold and whatever 
is left, the fallen fruit, the last 
leaf, the puzzled squirrel, the child 
far from home, lost, will believe 
this could be any night. That boy, 
walking alone, thinking of nothing 
or reciting his favorite names 
to the moon and stars, let him 
find the home he left this morning, 
let him hear a prayer out 
of the raging mouth of the wind. 
Let him repeat that prayer, 
the prayer that night follows day, 
that life follows death, that in time 
we find our lives. Don't let him see 
all that has gone. Let him love 
the darkness. Look, he's running 
and singing too. He could be happy.

Added: 25 Feb 2002 | Last Read: 18 Jan 2019 4:38 PM | Viewed: 5070 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/2885/ | Viewed on 18 January 2019.
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