Fall 1985 • Vol. VII No. 4 Five PoemsOctober 1, 1985 |

A Summer Afternoon an Old Man Gives Some Thought to the Central Questions

Grass grows out of every sidewalk crack. Briars have taken the garden. The arteries of the old dog harden almost audibly. The basement door is broken and the mice are back.   So this is how things are: this face that doesn't belong to anybody, a lot of things I ought to throw away, the grass that knew its place.   I overdramatize somewhat. There's nothing bricks, a hoe, some putty, nails and luck can't fix. Almost everything is redeemable. The dog and I are not.   Time sometimes heals the mind and the metaphorical heart but ravages all the while the bones and the hair and the poor, sad, fleshy part.   But this is something we have understood. This was part of the deal our parents made back in the very beginning of the dream.   I picked up a young bird yesterday that I thought was dead. I was going to throw it away, then one of the delicate gray lids lifted. The eye was as large as if a child had drawn it. It knew me with total recognition

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Miller Williams was author, editor, or translator of twenty-eight books, including twelve volumes of poetry. He was widely recognized with national and international awards and with two honorary degrees and was inaugural poet for the second inauguration of President Clinton. Recent books of poetry include Living on the Surface: New and Selected Poems (LSU Press), Adjusting to the Light (University of Missouri Press), and Points of Departure and The Ways We Touch (both from University of Illinois Press).

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