They, too, labor,
And if we envy them we should remember
How brief their stay in the ether is.

  

Unfolding without reason, like forgiveness,
Or summoning
Themselves at the wind’s bidding, they flee.

  

We do not know where they go, we go
As carelessly, as helplessly, finally
Too full of time.

  

But we are true
To ourselves so rarely, while they are always
Open to darkness, squandering light.

  

Without them, the bottomless sea seems shallow,
One more surface
Restoring itself in the mirror.

  

A floating prison, a dream-balloon,
The setting sun’s chameleon, or the sliding
Screen of the moon—

 

 When nothing else
Contains us we turn to them, and all
We ever gather appears less tangible.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 15 Number 5, on page 35
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