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Peter's Farm

We are approaching sleep; the chestnut blossoms in the mind
Mingle with thoughts of pain
And the long roots of barley, bitterness
As of the oak roots staining the waters dark
In Louisiana, the wet streets soaked with rain
And sodden blossoms, out of this
We have come, a tunnel softly hurtling into darkness.

The storm is coming.
The small farmhouse in Minnesota
Is hardly strong enough for the storm.
Darkness, darkness in grass, darkness in trees.
Even the water in wells trembles.
Bodies give off darkness, and chrysanthemums
Are dark, and horses, who are bearing great loads of hay
To the deep barns where the dark air is moving from the corners.

Lincoln’s statue and the traffic.
From the long past
Into the long present
A bird, forgotten in these pressures, warbling,
As the great wheel turns around, grinding
The living in water.
Washing, continual washing, in water now stained
With blossoms and rotting logs,
Cries, half-muffled, from beneath the earth, the living awakened
at last like the dead.


“Awakening” by Robert Bly, which you’ll find in the collection What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?.

I’ve seen Robert Bly vitiated both in print and in speeches (mostly for his admittedly idiotic book Iron John); but I don’t care what anyone says, this poem hits every note.

Took the picture at my friend Peter’s beautiful family farm in Keswick, Virginia.