After the Mower by Merwin

For A. S. F.

Your tradition of unthankfulness  
making what matters 
shine in high relief. 

Sugar on the black sand. 
The rabbits trembling 
in the tall grass. 

Their severed heads 
serene in the morning sun,
in that summer smell of cutting.

The Ivory Man always mowing,
a lucky foot swinging
from his ring of worn-out keys.

Our graves waiting under a green hill,
the poet's voice echoing
inside the empty water tower.

Is it enough
to have merely endured
or should we now gather up enraged?

Here in these Dantean woods,
I carve the absence of memory 
out of the granite of the world. 

Nothing was lost between 
that last thought and this expression.
But Virgil long since moved on. 

It's hard won wisdom,
and it cracks my brittling bones,
to know there is no more going home.