Unlike Wallace Stevens, I won’t speak
Of grand things anymore, at least at this
Juncture. Instead, I want to contemplate
The noise beneath my window on my block,
The garbage truck that grinds up bones with great
Intensity, crushing tuna cans
And Tupperware, and how it’s mercifully
Grown silent. It’s a kind of bliss of which
I want to speak, of striving put to bed:
Only here, and now, and only this,
This blessed quietness. When I was young,
I rushed to pass it by, afraid to miss
The next big thing: the chance that I could grasp
A life that I might love. On one such day,
Gazing at the Rockies, breathing in
A scarcity of sharp blue morning air,
I panted for much more than I could swallow,
A life of nature and wide-open spaces—
To be a member of a commune, say,
With all my true companions near, the chance
For paradise on earth. Yet with each step,
I felt that I had erred, had missed the turn
And would be lost forever in the mountains.
I don’t know where that sense of loss has gone
As I view those scenes again, a citizen
Of narrow eastern regions, noisy streets,
Meditating on the passing silence.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 36 Number 1, on page 29
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