"Leaving Cambridge — June 1959: II"

Today I leave Cambridge, I mark out of these grey old boulders
left before even the glaciers
back to a center of beginnings, what world alone I knew
when I was young, what circle established everything
the times I let nothing end my silver, my gazes high
in the pincers ending school, ending someday —
                                                                                       it all moved toward
the stores, the town, then, whenever involvement would come,
but certainty, certainty, the hardwood floors I cherished
to replace my worn linoleum …
home, now, like sun setting behind my back
always on the edge of earth — burned, burned to death in Kansas summer

but it is open! sweet fence at my front yard
open, old black paint carved for me then,
needless to break down —
I stood out in the rain and loped
stagecoaches around the block — imitating
life as real, the constant goal of growing up
syringing the house full of    absolute eternity.

And I go back now almost expecting it all
to flood over me again, I leave having hated all my awareness
of long, long tunnel here in ancient Cambridge. A year, most of it
drop by drop driving down beneath Chinese worryings, twelve months
down to the last nothing glance in the mirror, the year ending me
with hatred from this dumb constant grey decision in the North,
too far from shaven wheatfields, too far from always blond
instead of black heads: — engaged by dying out of a Missouri night in bus,
circling overhead till I hoped for Rilke visions in my drying up
by the mailbox, till I break down and write along the sidewalks
Harvard leads me to boxes of scholarship —
                                                                                and not even the mysteries
of endless time into China in the characters turned out before me
open any tomorrow’s window onto Christmas, snow, intelligence
in a happy sky.
                              Having hated starvation of the toes looking
for my footsteps again, having sunk into monologue
with the portrait of Tzu Hsi gracing the commons room
for Asian specialists.
                                            But now, at least I leave unfeeling
out of rain and humidity. Today the sun is shining, shining all my mirrors
over everybody America, looking down the tall forest roads
out of this East, out of this gradual slope to sea,
back to the settlements on rivers watering only the pasts,
only my childhood, back to Kansas.
3 June 1959 [Cambridge, Massachusetts]