Pampas grass, now dry,
once bent this way
Poems on Passing
AFTER READING T'AO CH'ING,
I WANDER UNTETHERED THROUGH THE SHORT GRASS
Dry spring, no rain for five weeks.
Already the lush green begins to bow its head and sink to its knees.
Already the plucked stalks and thyroid weeds like insects
Fly up and trouble my line of sight.
I stand inside the word here
As that word stands in its sentence,
Unshadowy, half at ease.
Religion's been in a ruin for over a thousand years.
Why shouldn't the sky be tatters,
lost notes to forgotten songs?
I inhabit who I am, as T'ao Ch'ing says, and walk about
Under the mindless clouds.
When it ends, it ends. What else?
One morning I'll leave home and never find my way back—
My story and I will disappear together, just like this.
— Charles Wright
from Appalachia. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998