Friday, October 16, 2009

True, but for the Details

Thin, tall, still awkward
with those long legs and
feet that have grown
like slender birds
always diving groundward,

the virgin turns away
and holds a match
to the pipe mouth,
fragrant smoke
surrounding her,

obscuring her thin
shoulders, her round
spectacles, her
face, pale from long
hours presiding over
the business of books
in the darkened library,

and she is unaware of
herself, of her body as it
moves like an unfettered
young horse, not quite graceful
but full of the new energy that
will slowly fall away as Autumn
comes onward,

but then she speaks, and
everything is changed, for
her voice chirps and whistles
and grinds, like the muttering
of a raven upon the split-rail fence
and of these narrow things, these
arcane pursuits within the pages
and curled paper--

of these things she is sure, and
she will hold forth about these obscure
articles of faith, which are built strong
and populated well in her sheltered
valley, and we older ones, shirt-tails
dirty from our long journeys, from
the fording of many rivers, from the
frequent times when we have crawled
upwards from the dust--

we wonder, wonder what will become
of her, this young, book-fed girl, so
sure, so stern in her own small way,
as the weight of winter falls upon her
and if she'll be lonely in the sheltered
valley forever, too narrow to let anyone in,
or will she walk past the walls of
sheltering stone, exchanging surety for
doubt, exchanging knowledge for wonder,
turning in that sweet, endearing clumsiness
for the slow, trudging step under the unrelenting
sky filled with the soot of bitter remembrance.

Patrick M. Tracy
10/16/09

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Patrick,

You’re posting stuff again.

I don’t think I ever met this girl, but I might have lived in that valley. I too mouthed the articles of faith, although without any real conviction. But in that valley, you were seen to be an upstanding young person with a bright future if you professed certain things. Serious minded young people are susceptible to this silliness.

These days the only people I run into spouting self-satisfied beliefs are republicans – and there are lots of those where I work. They speak the new gospel according to Rush, Hannity, and Palin. It must be nice to know all the answers. But for myself, I’ve given up the articles of faith “for the slow, trudging step.”

Swiftboat

Anonymous said...

I understand the girl and hope that she walks on. The trudging steps won't encompass only bitter memory. Her memory will find many things to cherish along the way as well. M