This long horizon runs so far before
my racing gaze that at the edge, bereft
of trees or structures, all my sight contains
has blended to a gentle neutral gray.
I never saw a true horizon once
before today. And now, just when I learn
how far a man can cast his earthly sight
if nothing intervenes, the sun behind me sinks.
How measured and how paced my thinking feels.
It was not always so. There have been days
when sight pulled up at every joyous glint
within my jumbled chuckling line of view;
thought used to plummet, leap, and spin, and some
bright phrase would start to sing, in chant, in chant,
and chant has surges and is not so paced or mete.
I do not know if that was better or if this.
I know there’s something then I missed, and now I miss.
Perhaps this new horizon knows. I leap
like some dart beast, some deer or hound,
I surge ahead and meet no obstacle.
I halt, but find that not a thing has changed.
I run and stop again a dozen changeless times.
I look aloft at last. The sky is gray
and so the outstretched ground. The going sun
is gone. A blackness crawls up from the far
long distance, running to my racing gaze.
The long horizon grows so short. I sprint
and do not stop until the dark has come
and swallowed everything together, me and it.
And stopped, I am just where I was before.
For in a jumbled cluttered room that’s dark
and in an uninhabited vast land
the steppes or prairies, when the darkness comes,
it’s all the same. Except that in the first
you stub your toe and find yourself. The last
is where you fall a thousand times in ignorance.
A structure rises in the silent middle night,
behind me, rushing past my back, vast and upright.
I feel the pricking of my neck – the cool
of stone that eases muscle burning from
my last hard run – the intuition of
a height, pressing down in airy weight
above my shoulders and my head and outspread hands.
This is not a place for needless words.
But now rise up the veiled and habited
heartcries. A searching cry I send and feel
the tower at my back. But stone is still;
I know that cry is for another time.
Knowledge settles in; I speak a name,
one single word, and dare no more.
I feel how flow the tower, and the ground;
and overhead and round, how space is moveless flight;
I feel a singing made of silent sound;
how holy darkness close pursues the holy light.
I will stay here tonight, and then move on.
I will not see the tower in the sun,
I know, for daylight is for labor – that
is what it means to be a man, in part,
for man goes forth unto his work
until the evening light, the time when visions come.
And yet what is man’s labor, if his mind
is bent, or if his back is bent? The same:
it is a vanity, a nothingness
with an appearance much like what exists;
a training for the coming night when work
that seemed renewed each day forever,
meets abruptly labor’s destined end.
What will remain for man to do? One work,
the prototype of work, the first that yields
immediate reward: Confess the gift
of his own being to its Giver, if he can.
Like a child: “You are the living light
that shines on everyone who comes into the world.”
Then give himself to Love and still receive all back,
then both again – the secret holy cycle
of his earthly life revealed, unbound,
and raised, a stalwart monument of bliss.
Wise men labor, not for bread alone, but this.
This then is the vision that I’m made
to see when all is hidden from my eyes.
Blind I gaze. A silver sliver bands the night,
at length, far in the East. The long horizon wakes.