There are Two Worlds

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Posted by Rebecca on Mon, 22 May 2006 16:26:34 EDT (

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Written by Larry Levis, from Winter Stars, published in 1985 by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260. See link below for the University of Pittsburgh Press website.

There are Two Worlds

Perhaps the ankle of a horse is holy.

Crossing the Mississippi at dusk, Clemens thought
Of a sequel in which Huck Finn, in old age, became
A hermit, & insane. And never wrote it.

And perhaps all that he left out is holy.

The river, anyway, became a sacrament when
He spoke of it, even though
The last ten chapters were a failure he devised

To please America & make his lady
Happy: to buy her silk, furs, & jewels with

Hues no one in Hannibal had ever seen.

There, above the river, if
The pattern of the stars is a blueprint for a heaven
Left unfinished,

I also believe the ankle of a horse,
In the seventh furlong, is as delicate as the fine lace
of faith, & therefore holy.

I think it was only Twain's cynicism, the smell of a river
Lingering in his nostrils forever, that kept
His humor alive to the end.

I don't know how he managed it.

I used to make love to a woman, who,
When I left, would kiss the door she held open for me
As if instead of me, as if she already missed me.
I would stand there in the cold air, breathing it,
Amused by her charm, which was, like the scent of a river.

Provocative, the dusk & lights along the shore.

Should I say my soul went mad for a year, &
Could not sleep? To whom should I say so?

She was gentle, & intended no harm.

If the ankle of a horse is holy, & if it fails
In the stretch & the horse goes down &
The jockey in the bright shout of his silks
Is pitched headlong onto
The track & maimed, & if, later the horse is
Destroyed, & all that is holy

Is also destroyed: hundreds of bones & muscles that
Tried their best to be pure flight, a lyric
Made flesh, then

I would like to go home, please.

Even though I betrayed it, & left, even though
I might be, at such a time as I am permitted
To go back to my wife, my son--no one, or

No more than a stone in a pasture full
Of stones, full of the indifferent grasses,

(& Huck Finn insane by then & living alone)

It will be, it might be still,
A place where what can only remain holy grazes, &
Where men might, also, approach with soft halters,
And, having no alternative, lead that fast world

Home--though it is only to the closed dark of stalls,
And though the men walk ahead of the horses slightly
Afraid, & at all times in awe of their
Quickness, & how they have nothing to lose, especially

Now, when the first stars appear slowly enough
To be counted, & the breath of the horses make white signatures

On the air: Last Button, No Kidding, Brief Affair--

And the air is colder.

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