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MERWIN, W.S.


The speed Of Light

So gradual in those summers was the going

of the age it seemed that the long days setting out

when the stars faded over the mountains were not

leaving us even as the birds woke in full song and the dew

glittered in the webs it appeared then that the clear morning

opening into the sky was something of ours

to have and keep and that the brightness we could not touch

and the air we could not hold had come to be there all the time

for us and would never be gone and that the axle

we did not hear was not turning when the ancient car

coughed in the roofer's barn and rolled out echoing

first thing into the lane and the only tractor

in the village rumbled and went into its rusty

mutterings before heading out of its lean-to

into the cow pats and the shadow of the lime tree

we did not see that the swallows flashing and the sparks

of their cries were fast in the spokes of the hollow

wheel that was turning and turning us taking us

all away as one with the tires of the baker's van

where the wheels of bread were stacked like days in calendars

coming and going all at once we did not hear

the rim of the hour in whatever we were saying

or touching all day we thought it was there and would stay

it was only as the afternoon lengthened on its

dial and the shadows reached out farther and farther

from everything that we began to listen for what

might be escaping us and we heard high voices ringing

the village at sundown calling their animals home

and then the bats after dark and the silence on its road