offering

when the temples have crumbled
and every god fallen from the sky
when likewise every nation
sinks the teeth of its people
into the warm neck of the earth
let me make this prayer
let me offer this hope
if only to myself

may every bird of morning
pierced by a poisoned arrow
rise to plead singing again
may every face that ever shone
in glorious mystery and beauty
bend once more to the rising sun
and may every poet
crazed with defending
a fortress without walls
write one last verse
praising and lifting
his embattled soul

though rivers turn to sand
trees rot to stone and
clouds freeze in the sky
though all left of love
just ashes buried beside
the bones of savages
though time finally slash humanity
with the scythe of its pendulum
and all light be darkness
and all darkness death
let me breathe one breath
and testify to this womb
and its promise of paradise

and as I make this prayer
this inaudible fatal whisper
I know that the sun
will again in its arms
hold the flower of new civilizations
that hatred returning will march
and love again will dream
so I confess one last wish

that one day long away
when eyes again meet trees
and new ears the wind
may they in leaves see
we who were here before
and in their smooth rustling
hear these slow labored words

1970