Read this last night and was going to just email it to Anna Laura, but then I decided to put it here instead with specific instructions (for her anyway) to not ignore it. Also – the first couple of stanzas in this poem are why I have a tattoo of kudzu on my wrist.
The tangle of it all, the briar curve perspective,
the entrance to places you could not go
without being tugged at the edges, caught
by tiny infractions of wool on the sweater,
brought to a twisted halt to unhook.
I would go anyway in old clothes,
free and happy through a necessary wounding,
my knees damp with the earth, the taste of blood
in my mouth like a richer earth.
In the ticket I could be free and observant,
surveying the tiny stages and the curtained dramas,
every further stage of vision leading me back
to smaller and smaller worlds, like a child’s
telescoping theater guiding the eye to a tiny backdrop.
In one, I still see the wren, pivoting straight up
on a branch end, in another, the sloes burn on,
calm and content in their soft black light.
I was never afraid in the thicket, never cramped
or contained and even the constrained scurry
of something close but invisible in the brush brought
home to me all the rewards of a sheltered, secret life.
No one knew me in my child’s aloneness
by any other names but the ones that called me back
to the quiet den I made in the hedge
and it seemed with this rich, impassable, interiority
all outer revelation was possible. From those shadows
I looked happily over great green spaces where
an open visibility would render me unseen.
All that summer I thought I could make it last,
never leave the branching world where, permanent
in my innocence, I could sit, a child abroad beyond
the house and call of waving neighbours,
a crouched pilgrim, an apprentice to stealth and silence,
still and sovereign at the center of my shadowed world,
a kind of enclosed womb-like eternity that could
end only with the annunciation that another wider
and wiser eternity was about to begin.
All of that summer as I changed unknowingly
from young boy to young man, as I went in secret
from undifferentiated shadow to clear edged caster
of a shadow, I looked and looked and changed
unknowingly by looking, afraid as it all began
of the strange impatience growing behind my eyes,
the wound of desire opening slowly at the center
of my sight, not knowing at first that that looking
was a new kind of looking, that that dry mouth
of anticipation was prelude to a different form
of speech, that that minute searching of the
stained glass light searching between the branches
was the knowledge of some immanence
I could not imagine, come to find me
until I half felt, half met, the guiding signal
telling me to leave.
Something fought and sought and found me
in the hedge, gripped me with a new intelligence,
arrested me and set me to motion,
brought clarity to silence, set me to grow
and take this body out of hiding,
made me see the shadows stir with new
and relevatory intolerance, the hooked briars
raw with dispensation and beckoning.
An opening in my world come to find me,
bring me out. Some guiding hand lifted
and shone on me, found me in outline,
illumined the way I shaped in the light,
passed on — the red haw of a new season,
swung like a lantern through the sheltering dark.
David Whyte, from Everything is Waiting for You