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At The San Francisco Airport

This is the terminal: the light

Gives perfect vision, false and hard;

The metal glitters, deep and bright-

Great planes are waiting in the yard-

They are already in the night.

And you are here beside me, small.

Containted and fragile, and intent

On things that I but half recall-

Yet going whither you are bent.

I am the past, and that is all.

But you and I in part are one:

The frightened brain, the nervous will,

The knowledge of what must be done,

The passion to acquire the skill

To face that which you dare not shun.

The rain of matter upon sense

Destroys me momently. The score:

There comes what will come. The expense

Is what one thought, and something more-

One's being and intelligence.

This is the terminal, the break.

Beyond this point, on lines of air,

You take the way that you must take;

And I remain in light and stare-

In light, and nothing else, awake

An October Nocturne

The night was faint and sheer;

Immobile, road and dune.

Then, for a moment, clear,

A plane moved past the moon.

O spirit cool and frail,

Hung in the lunar fire!

Spun wire and brittle veil!

And tremblingly slowly higher!

Pure in each proven line!

The balance and the aim,

Half empty, half divine!

I saw how true you came.

Dissevered from your cause,

Your function was your goal.

Oblivious of my laws,

You made your calm patrol.

The Slow Pacific Swell

Far out of sight forever stands the sea,

Bounding the land with pale tranquillity.

When a small child, I watched it from a hill

At thirty miles or more. The vision still

Lies in the eye, soft blue and far away:

The rain has washed the dust from April day;

Paint-brush and lupine lie against the ground;

The wind above the hill-top has the sound

Of distant water in unbroken sky;

Dark and precise the little steamers ply–

Firm in direction they seem not to stir.

That is illusion. The artificer

Of quiet, distance holds me in a vise

And holds the ocean steady to my eyes.

Once when I rounded Flattery, the sea

Hove its loose weight like sand to tangle me

Upon the washing deck, to crush the hull;

Subsiding, dragged flesh at the bone. The skull

Felt the retreating wash of dreaming hair.

Half drenched in dissolution, I lay bare.

I scarcely pulled myself erect; I came

Back slowly, slowly knew myself the same.

That was the ocean. From the ship we saw

Gray whales for miles: the long sweep of the jaw,

The blunt head plunging clean above the wave.

And one rose in a tent of sea and gave

A darkening shudder; water fell away;

The whale stood shining, and then sank in spray.

A landsman, I. The sea is but a sound.

I would be near it on a sandy mound,

And hear the steady rushing of the deep

While I lay stinging in the sand with sleep.

I have lived inland long. The land is numb.

It stands beneath the feet, and one may come

Walking securely, till the sea extends

Its limber margin, and precision ends.

By night a chaos of commingling power,

The whole Pacific hovers hour by hour.

The slow Pacific swell stirs on the sand,

Sleeping to sink away, withdrawing land,

Heaving and wrinkled in the moon, and blind;

Or gathers seaward, ebbing out of mind.

Where my Sight Goes

Who knows

Where my sight goes,

What your sight shows—

Where the peachtree blows?

The frogs sing

Of everything

And children run

As leaves swing.

And many women pass

Dressed in white,

As thoughts of noon pass

From sea to sea.

And all these things would take

My life from me.