Galway Kinnell


How old?

–It was completely inadvertent.
  It was more or less late afternoon
  and I came over a hilltop
  and smack in front of me was the sunset.

–Couldn't you have turned around and gone back?

–Wherever you turn, a window
   in a childhood house fills with fire.

–Remember the pennies we put on the track,
  how the train left behind only the bright splashes?

–Everything startles with its beauty
  when assigned value has been eradicated,
  especially if the value assigned is one cent.

–Does the past ever get too heavy to lug around?

–If your rucksack is too full it could
  wrestle you down backwards.

–Does it ever get lighter?

–It might if so-called obsolete words start
  falling off the back end of the language.

–Is it easier to figure things out when you're old?

–I once thought so. Once I said to myself,
  "If I could sit in one place on earth
  and try to understand, it would be here."

–Nice thought.

–Yes, but where was I when I thought it?

–Where do you think you might have
  ended up had you turned around?

–Where the swaying feet of a hanged man
  would take him, if he were set walking, nobody knows.

–Maybe only half of you is a hanged man.

–Each individual consciousness would be much
  more dangerous if it had more than one body.

–Do you feel a draft?

–It could be a lost moment, unconnected
  with earth, just passing through.

–Or did I forget to shut the front door?

–Maybe a window exploded.

–Have you noticed the light bulb in the cellar
  blows out about every two months?

–When ordinary things feel odd
  and odd things normal, be careful.

–I like life best when everything's
  doing what it's supposed to.

–Kissers kiss, roofers roof, matter matters.

–Don't forget to call your friend in Des Moines.

–I called him. He said he's feeling good.
  He said he had just finished eating an orange.

–Where would you like to be right now?

–I'd like to be at McCoy Stadium
  watching a good game of baseball. And you?

–Me, too. I like it when there's a runner on third.
  At every pitch he starts for home
  and then immediately scurries back.

–If it's a wild pitch, he hovers
  a moment to be sure it's really wild
  and then is quick–like a tear,
  with a tiny bit of sunlight inside it.

–Why the bit of sunlight?

–It would be his allotment of hope.

Galway Kinnell, Poetry, The Poetry Foundation, September, 2006.