The Child is Father of the Man
I don't know how to seek you out inside me -
child that I was: whether I have to scrape
with gritted nails
in memory's plot
or call you forth with drastic invocations
I don't believe in.
You're lost - not lost to yourself:
only to me. But all the same I'm you,
or so they say, the ones who seem to know
more about me than I do, or than you do.
In the time that's given to a life
you had your own time,
wide and stretching out as far as
the edge, the margin of endless play.
I know you played once as I'm playing now:
but this isn't to meet you. I'm your repetition
- if only in the curtailed splendour
of the game, its guilt and innocence.
Wordsworth declares that you're my father:
himself playing a weird and wild game
with the years, succession
and genetics. For my assembled parts,
the biological thing,
I had another father
- and now he's dead. But you're alive.
No doubt about it - you're alive
like a pulsing shadow
inside me. Yet I have no knowledge of this ‘inside'.
When I examine the interior of what I am
I find a mass of inchoate forms
that even by an effort of memory
are barely distinguishable.
But you are there - untouchable, invisible.
Come closer. I sometimes think
you don't want to
for fear I'll kill you. Or that deftly
you elude me
out of an unfathomable
will to hide. Then I suspect
you have no fear of me -
as the shadow has no fear of the body
that casts it on the wall.
It could be that you're always here
and that you're the sacred form
of a cosmic ignorance
that should torment me.
Though perhaps, better still,
you've sounded the depths of visionary wisdom.
All the same, I know you hate
such big words, maybe
because you've no knowledge of them
nor they of you.
Among countless other things you may be,
I can understand that you're precisely this:
the ignorance of big words.
That for the present moment of your absence
or of your manner of hiding
this is enough for me. In the meantime, in dreams,
I croon your songs without meaning
and, awake, I try to place them
in the irregular lines of serious play,
this other edge, this margin.