So many poems begin where they
should end, and never end.
Mine never end, they run on
book after book, complaining
to the moon that heaven is wrong
or dull, no place at all to be.
I believe all this. I believe
that ducks take wing only
in stories and then to return
the gift of Right to the winds.
If you knew how I came to be
seven years old and how thick
and blond my hair was, falling
about my shoulders like the leaves
of the slender eucalyptus
that now blesses my driveway
and shades my pale blue Falcon,
if you could see me pulling
wagon loads of stones across
the tufted fields and placing
them to build myself and my brother
a humped mound of earth where
flowers might rise as from a grave,
you might understand the last spring
before war turned toward our house
and entered before dawn, a pale
stranger that hovered over each bed
and touched the soft, unguarded faces
leaving bruises so faint
years would pass before they darkened
and finally burned. Now I can sit
calmly over coffee and recover
each season, how the rains swelled
the streets, how at night I mumbled
a prayer because the weight
of snow was too great to bear
as I heard it softly packing
down the roof, how I waited
for hours for some small breeze
to rise from the river dreaming
beside me, and none came, and morning
was so much mist rising
and the long moaning of ore boats
returning the way they’d come,
only now freighted with the earth
someone would carve and cook.
That is the poem I called “Boyhood”
and placed between the smeared pages
of your morning paper. White itself,
it fell on the white tablecloth
and meant so little you turned
it over and wrote a column
of figures you never added up.
You capped your gold fountain pen
and snapped your fingers to remind
yourself of some small, lost event.
My poem remained long after you’d
gone, face down, unread, not even
misunderstood, until it passed,
like its subject, into the literatures
of silence, though hardly first
among them, for there have always
been the tales the water told 
the cup and the words the wind
sang to the windows in those houses
we abandoned after the roads
whispered all night in our ears.