Robert Vivian

Opposition and Sister Squares, Chris Gavalier

i can’t help writing this


      I love what can’t be spoken, which is already turning into dust, the whir of a hummingbird’s wings, a wren taking up residence in a little birdhouse a student made for me, my own thirsty tongue that furls and unfurls around words that can’t be said or spoken or God forbid defined, the spirit of color that infuses the least wood chip and Monet’s grain stacks suddenly rolled up in central Michigan, a candle flame before dawn I call simple mysterious hope lighting the way in a dress sheer as burning, a few round stones taken from the river in winter to remind me of silence and not knowing and how important it is to tremble in the cold, my own right hand writing these words for someone, for no one because the earth is still turning, the birds are still singing and I feel and touch and hardly know the air I breathe, numinous spirit, holy loved one, infinite shroud of being, a shopping list for the dead and what they no longer need or require, earth list of fire and water and the four directions, the four seasons, their ears turning into corn and sunflowers, their heels like nubs of eternity digging in to anthills, an aching utterance like this one who dares to surge and seep on to a page spilling over with wild flowers and nonsensical praise—I love and I cherish and want what can’t be spoken or broken or separated out for the vastness of the sky that has become my most personal of breathing and the deepening lines in my own hands, those riverbeds of fate and yearning and planetary seams a whole cosmos gave to me and this coming together of constellations and the ancient odes of ancestors, the children I will never have and a few wide-eyed does at the edge of a tree line, the brook trout who save and redeem my life one glorious worm hole at a time, every dripping and wet vermiculation like a vein pulsing in my heart for no reason no man or woman could ever say, maybe a child maybe, maybe a fern opening maybe in the deep summer woods, maybe the lilacs and their intimate profusion of heaven and butterflies maybe, maybe the welling up of sudden and grateful and overwhelming tears maybe, maybe this sudden need maybe to get down on my knees maybe and shed my shoes maybe and maybe kiss the ground maybe wherever I happen to be.   

Robert Vivian is the author of The Tall Grass Trilogy, Water And Abandon and two meditative essay collections, Cold Snap As Yearning and The Least Cricket Of Evening. His first poetry book is called Mystery My Country–and he’s co-written a second called Traversings with the poet Richard Jackson. He teaches at Alma College and as a core faculty member at The Vermont College Of Fine Arts. His latest book, All I Feel Is Rivers, has just been published by the Univ. of Nebraska Press.