Now and Then
When first ghosts of our own begetting
force us back to the precipice
and empty air sucks suddenly
under our heels,
the sharp shock is its own cure, telling
how vain are our imaginings,
and soon our feet are travelling
But at the second and the third return
our jaded souls respond more slowly
and in the general hurly-burly
the solid truth no longer stands alone,
and anyone may one day come
to see the truth itself in ghostly stuff,
and then the void beyond the cliff
will swing him down and swallow him.
Life narrows down between our closing arms,
between our hands, between finger and thumb,
whittles and whittles and there is nothing there.
The bodily earth about us, loud and lit,
touches the senses, nothing further; form
thins into smoke, thence into lightless air;
the soul in the blackness of uncentred space,
knowing nothing, sweats with fear.
Fled are the open sky, the easy slumber.
Now in a narrowing chamber
we pace and pace and turn, and pace and turn,
and turn again.