Denis Johnson

Denis Johnson
Denis Johnson 1949-2017

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Hallow's Eve!



Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

From Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allan Poe

***
Unbidden

The ghosts swarm.
They speak as one
person. Each
loves you. Each
has left something
undone.

          

Did the palo verde
blush yellow
all at once?

Today's edges
are so sharp

they might cut
anything that moved.

          

The way a lost
word

will come back
unbidden.

You're not interested
in it now,

only
in knowing
where it's been.


***

Tree House

Start with a tree,
an old willow with its feet in the water,
and one low branch to let you in
and a higher branch to let you
upstairs,
and a lookout branch to show
how far you've come
(the lake before you,
the woods at your back),

and now you are close
to those who live in these rooms
without walls, without doors:
one nuthatch typing its way up the bark,
two mourning doves calling the sun out of darkness,
three blackbirds folding their wings tipped with sunset,
twelve crows threading the air and stitching
a cape that whirls them away
through the empty sky,

and don't forget the blue heron
stalking the shallows for bluegills,
and don't forget the otter backpaddling past you,
and the turtles perched on the log like shoes
lined up each night in a large family,

and don't forget the owl
who has watched over you
since you were born.

Be the housekeeper of trees,
who have nothing to keep
except silence.

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