Fall 1989 • Vol. XI No. 4 Poetry |

Primitive Sand

How many years had the spring Bubbled its silver into that tiny pond At the stream's head? On the bottom, the sand Had boiled against itself so long It was worn soft and slippery as talc. I was just a boy, With a boy's knees and a boy's head, But I knew when I knelt To drink there How far that posture went back: I could as well have been An ape with my ass in the air. When I rose, I had the feeling I saw, dimly in shade, One of the old ones, The ones of the permanent frown, Who forded a stream on sharp, primitive sand To become us. What a journey they made . . . . What a stream he crossed, My dappled one, my beginning in time. I pressed my hand flat against my brow And then held the palm open toward him. It was a salute I was sure I owed him, Even if he couldn't read it, Even if he wasn't there.

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece

Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More


Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.


With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.