Variation on a Theme by Stevens


In fall and whiskey weather when
the eye clears with the air and blood
comes up to the surface one last time
before the winter and its sleeps,
the weeds go down to straws,
the north wind strips most birds
out of the atmosphere and they
go southward with the sunlight,
the retired people, and rich airs.
All appetites revive and love
is possible again in clarity
without the sweats of heat: it makes
warmth. The walleyed arctic birds
arrive to summer in the fall,
warmed by these chills; geese
practice their noisy Vs,
half a horizon wide, and white owls
hide from their crows in the pines.
Therefore it is not tragic to stay
and not tragic or comic to go,
but it is absolutely typical to say
goodbye while saying hello.


Alan Dugan, Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry, Seven Stories Press, 2003.