A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
What the mouth sings, the soul must learn to forgive.
A rat’s as moral as a monk in the eyes of the real world.
Still, the heart is a river
pouring from itself, a river that cannot be crossed.
It opens on a bay
and turns back upon itself as the tide comes in,
it carries the cry of the loon and the salts
of the unutterably human.
A distant eagle enters the mouth of a river
salmon no longer run and his wide wings glide
upstream until he disappears
into the nothing from which he came. Only the thought remains.
Lacking the eagle’s cunning or the wisdom of the sparrow,
where shall I turn, drowning in sorrow?
Who will know what the trees know, the spidery patience
of young maple or what the willows confess?
Let me be water. The heart pours out in waves.
Listen to what the water says.
Wind, be a friend.
There’s nothing I couldn’t forgive.
Copyright 2013 Sam Hamill. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Sam Hamill reads his poem “What the Water Knows.” The video is produced by Galen Garwood.
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As Jane Hirshfield has said, “Sam Hamill is a writer unabashedly taking his place within the community of literature and the community of all sentient beings—his fidelity is to the magnificent truth of existence, and to its commensurate singing.”
Hamill’s recent books include Habitation: Collected Poems published by Lost Horse Press.