Ask for Nothing

Ask for Nothing


(after Philip Levine)


Instead walk out alone in the morning

heading out of town towards the arboretum

just waking in the chill spring dawn;

the dust risen from the steps of your trainers

transforms itself into a fine red rain fallen

earthward, not goddess gift, nor Easter token.

The ash-trees at the side of the path,

shelter for dog-walkers in actual grey April

rain, hold their breath, or exhale, ever so

slightly as you open the wooden gate

that leads from the road; the gate that leads

nowhere you haven’t been, for this walk

repeats itself as your run on some other days.

This is why, in the distance, even this early,

you’ll scan the sky for golf-balls, expect

a posse of golfers, bored with their wives,

bored with the non-golfing hours of their lives

to trundle towards you; or lost family

you never see, your brother, the one you never

met, he died in the womb, your lost babies,

singing, hiding in the trees, trying to find

you, out , every morning, picking up golf-

balls, knowing the exact constituency of tree

that made those loopy insides, having

yelped at the moon, bring in first sunlight.

Behind you the windows of the town

flick on and off, your own house closes down;

the voices were singing; fade like songs

of pain must do, over the stream, over

the rainfall water rock waking dream then

are gone; even the first birds have gone quiet,

have fled into smoke, and the road

whitened in moonlight, the text primed

by your Slovakian lover, the field blackened

in sunlight, lead everywhere.  




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