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A young man still, to me he is the Ancient of Days
standing stern in the stern of the skiff, poling us
Over the jade mirror of the Tickfaw River. Lean,
he leans to his labor. He is not a memory,
He has eclipsed memory: he is a thing of pure
Imagination, this patriarch, taller than a cypress
As I see him from my seat in the middle of my mind
which is the prow of the rowboat. At Peace
Among Pines, the Choctaw called this place.
Tickfaw, we say, forgetting, while the water,
Obsidian and bottomless to my vision though not
to the pole, maintains its impossible surface,
Motionless, even when the huge green log ahead
lifts its snout and regards us. Live oaks arc above,
A temple roof, while the old god shifts and shimmers.
I have seen my angels in the Spanish moss,
But now it’s Leviathan’s head at the window,
not Urizen or the giant Albion, but America,
Still a prophecy of which the helmsman is an emanation,
and of which I am a shadow, and of which the fear
That lifts me out of my body is the blessed flame,
the gnosis my childhood devours, that pure delight.
Copyright 2022 T.R. Hummer
T.R. Hummer’s many books include Available Surfaces: Essays on Poesis (University of Michigan Press, 2012).