Philip Levine

(January 10, 1928 / Detroit, Michigan)

In A Vacant House - Poem by Philip Levine

Someone was calling someone;
now they've stopped. Beyond the glass
the rose vines quiver as in
a light wind, but there is none:
I hear nothing. The moments pass,
or seem to pass, and the sun,
risen above the old birch,
steadies for the downward arch.

It is noon. Privacy is
one thing, but to be alone,
to speak and not to be heard,
to speak again the same word
or another until one
can no longer distinguish
the presence of silence or
what the silence is there for...

No one can begin anew
naming by turn beast, fowl,
and bush with the exact word.
Beyond the fence the sparse wood Yields;
light enters; nighthawk, owl,
and weasel have fled. To know
the complete absence of fear,
not to fear what is not there

becomes the end, the last brute
quiver of instinct. One moves,
or tries to move, among facts,
naming one's self and one's acts
as if they were real. Dead leaves
cling to the branch, and the root
grips to endure, but no cry
questions the illusion of sky.

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Read poems about / on: silence, fear, rose, light, house, wind, alone, sky, sun

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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