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The past III.

You try to keep the present uppermost in your mind, counting its blessings (which today are many) because although you are not without hope for the world, crazy as that seems to your gloomier friends and often to yourself, yet your own hopes have shrunk, options are less abundant. Ages ago you enjoyed thinking of names for a daughter; later you still entertained, at least as hypothesis, the notion of a not impossible love, requited passion; or resolved modestly to learn some craft, various languages. And all those sparks of future winked out behind you, forgettable. So--the present. Its blessings many today: the fresh, ornate blossoms of the simplest trees a sudden irregular pattern everywhere, audacious white, flamingo pink in a haze of early warmth. But perversely it's not what you crave. You want the past. Oh, not your own, no reliving of anything--no, what you hanker after is a compost, a forest floor, thick, saturate, fathoms deep, palimpsestuous, its surface a mosaic of infinitely fragile, lacy, tenacious skeleton leaves. When you put your ear to that odorous ground you can catch the unmusical, undefeated belling note, as of a wounded stag escaped triumphant, of lives long gone.
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Author:Levertov, Denise
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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