Sometimes I fear the day where I cannot write any more,
and my shriveled pen will drop to the floor, hollow and dead.
Against that day, I embrace the most grotesque caricatures,
only vaguely human, and figures concocted from bits of flower-dust,
even less human. Even their reproaches I enjoy—sharply.
The helpless, uncertain anger of half-formed creatures, coaxed from shadows,
and taunted with yearning for a life I can't give.
No Anna Karenina with haunting eyes, or a wild-hearted Cathy,
calling Heathcliff. I cannot summon them.
I cannot give them the sullen sensuality of Madame Bovary
or the sweet madness of Ophelia.
Nor a Notre-Dame to stand, deeply rooted,
majestically unmoved by the writhing of the hunchback in the shadows,
the dancer in the light, and the priest in the fire.
But I, too, burn in the fear that I will be
under the speckled shade of a willow tree, the wind
threaded with bird-song, and think,
This is poetry. And stop there.
Feel no whisper of an idea, as softly insistent
as the bird first learning to feel its wings,
and no dim specter will twist itself free from the dark
and call me by name.