Galway Kinnell

Image by Maud Kinnell

Poem introduction

I'm going to read now the very last part of a poem called 'The Seekonk Woods'.

The Seekonk Woods

I want to crawl face down in the fields
and graze on the wild strawberries, my clothes
stained pink, even for seven years
if I must, if they exist. I want to lie out
on my back under the thousand stars and think
my way up among them, through them,
and a little distance past them, and attain
a moment of absolute ignorance,
if I can, if human mentality lets us.
I have always intended to live forever;
but not until now, to live now. The moment
I have done one or the other, I here swear,
no one will have to drag me, I'll come
but never will I agree to burn my words.
The poplar logs creosoted asleep under the tracks
have stopped snoring. Maybe they've
already waked up. The bow saws at G.
An oak leaf rattles on its tree. The rails
may never meet, O fellow Euclideans,
for you, for me. So what if we groan.
That's our noise. Laughter is our stuttering
in a language we can't speak yet. Behind,
the world made of wishes goes dark. Ahead,
if not now then never, shines what is.

'The Seekonk Woods' from Three Books: Body Rags: Mortal Acts, Mortal Words: The Past (Houghton Mifflin, 1993), © Galway Kinnell 1968, 1980, 1985, 1993, used by permission of the author and the publisher.