"To open Night’s eye that sleeps in what we know by day"

— Robert Duncan

Or to turn again to what we have known
by other days —
                                   come home
                                   to this house and yard —
                                                                                    the eye
                                   into the spring immediacy
                                   of images, lanes, right turns, old
                                   hedge rows and stone
                                   fences, fields simply —
                                   the eye opens not by night’s
                                   or day, day’s
                                   or wished open for,
                                   but that we are turned
                                   to — I do not know when
                                   the clouds will cover or uncover
                                   the sun (moon) but wait in its shining
                                   to see the leaves veined
                                   taken from the pear tree, dirt
                                   dug up by the hose nozzle
                                   watering the flowers.
You are
come home. Till it
opens, but come
to where it opens
                                        Having crossed
the street, or the whole country, distance
that has been carried
in me, wasn’t it? the crossing
is to myself — simply
to this Fort Scott
or this house and grass on S. Eddy, that
will be lost back again at leaving them,
but to myself in them.
Or this would not be so simple,
or this would not be
a homecoming, or I would not
have seen again, what looks by now
The eye opened
                                                                      Open the gates
                                                                      And the flowers
                                                                      must be watered
The people I love are
only in the distances.  — The red
field of blackberry thickets to cross
in an empty lot, a backyard
in another city, stays with me. —
To even think of those few people, last nights
seen, across the table, eating, or
at some last noon meal, out of a window,
driving away. And the photograph
carried, I have walked out of,
even the red leaves of those berry vines
have torn what old pants and the legs
through them, again? I have
come home, walked through
whatever that distance was I had like a wall
in front of me, into a calm there, old references,
relevances, the opening of the clenched fist to go home,
old house and town grown up from,
in me.  And the people I love,
are in what distances now?
                       They come down from the city
                       and look over the old town again
                       and knock it, crank out
                       the whole lot of hard words, or the empty
                       ones about old times, old memories, old
                       buddies gone off, great times. But get red,
                       and drink beer, and fed up enough with it,
                       go back home.
              I even feel, coming back to Fort Scott,
              even the same
              visiting of relatives, my father, and enjoy
              his house for a while, as easily, not my own
              living room and icebox
                   (Relish the ease, and
                     settle the relatives
                     for another year) —
              If there were no focus here, of what
              to look into, it would be the same
              as that (if there had not been
              the try, in other places, the whole world
              already, or the tries already    here, back from the Army
              wandering around in the rain? —
                   They don’t have
              coming back to the old / home / town
              from wherever, other city,
                   or have
              even in the home they’ve made — job, family,
              or these streets,
              where there is no light to focus
              or care about a light.
Love, for what people, finally?  Can I
restrict it?  come down
to say there is no light to focus
in those people, names after names I read
in the News Briefs in the paper, come back
to visit —
                     or into (as certain as) this
old land come back to, my own
past’s references still flowing here —
To what people come down
those references?
The people I love, the people
I do not even know — in all
their distances. What light
I can even see to see
If it is or is not there
Where the figures are
in the landscape. And when I
come to them, wave
as if across a field
To meet
yet, in this landscape, in these
flowers, quiet,
opening and closing in the backyard —
the distances where are
still the people I love, where love
is, to come to as certainly
as this house.
3.                                                                for Elie

Otherwise, what am I talking about?
The lines of the fields I knew as a child
from books I read,
run on down to the sea
north of Boston.
I cannot see you there now. That
was the first drive
into the country of my mind
come real. I only see you
over and over on the bed,
out of the sunlight in that room, sweated.
That before, might as well have been
as imaginary as that land. It is out of that
we can come back to each other? Or find
whatever country — even in the other room
of that apartment — we were not in before, is
its own unknown country, or land
thought of as so well known, its real
face was never seen before, our own,
opening into each other, only now
in this distance, separated, we come to.
Or else, what am I talking about,
where is the fire of flow of
all relevances
that goes on and on, I am come home to.

The kids across the alley still lose themselves in the hollyhocks,
in the next block from their own
is another country — and the country
is what is still left, age or not, mine
or their own Now, flows, the way
streets run here, or the constant going and coming
of their dad’s car back there,
and goes on off all directions from this town.
I look west
                            (is the next block)
                            I look right inward, only
                            to be expert in home cosmography
cross the border,
hasn’t ever stopped under this town
since it was founded, the flow
under the efforts stationed on it —
where I have found my bloodstream pulse
countable, the grass does not end,
where the eye is opened
in me, and the heart
beats home to.
— 24 Jul–28 Aug 63
Fort Scott, Kansas – Albuquerque, N. M.