To The Memory of William Faulkner
Comes into the town from places not suspected,
Still clear and clean, in no great hurry except
When great storms wreak their wrath upon
The glistening limestone of that cradle.
So much inferred from the reflected night
In the west, and the water strong and sure
Whipping the banks, hissing, sweeping
Brown menace brooking nothing but stone
And that the best, bedded, in concrete
Solid to all movements else, monumental
To be swept aside, pebbled, in his time.
Yet in due season can like a cat lap
Lick the low stones, recede from gnarled
Protesting root of tree with heart half evidenced
And in the earth still growing shamed and tamed.
Though at such times no reason show for
The outraged limbs, the groping arms, wild
Cage, a run for rats and voles that should
Be secret to the dark earth.
With confidence, magnanimity no greater known
Caresses then, without intent to harm and doing none
A giant’s whisper, great bellows reeded to
A murmur, host to frail and frailest
Flesh and blood one stones hurt to end
Yet grows there, blossoms in his times trough
Of gentleness: children at one with water
Standing below the straw strands of his last blow.
And dips beneath the bridges, not
Moving them in one, but taking each a piece
However small and unremarked, a secret
Diminution of their strength until at last
The stones shriek and the iron groans, being
Too few and too small for the flood
That comes inevitable timing, his arm
Against man’s vigilance ensures destruction.
Then leaves the town suffering amelioration
From the moor’s clear streams, and turns
A backward look in whirlpool saying
All else is here because I was here first.