Poems by Richard Levine

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The Flood That Saves the World

What sort of science is it that enriches the understanding
but robs the imagination?
– Henry David Thoreau

by Richard Levine

From Canary Spring 2016

Richard lives a few miles from the mouth of the Hudson River, which flows out through estuarial waters to the Atlantic. He lives even closer to Prospect Park, which contains one of the highest points in Brooklyn.

In April, rains reign; winter-knit ice melts.
For days, gray ranges glaciers across the sky,
their sustained dome over mountains helping

submerge the wood in brine-green light and dye.
Dark trunks, post and brindle the wet gloam,
like pier piles under green crowns and cloud tide.

Treasure’s buried everywhere in this loam,
the world’s composted rot, rich and alive,
so I wade in open to all signs shown.

Though I walk knowing that science has pried
open the metaphors and secret names
of air and magnetic orbits, whose tides

lure birds back a-wing and awaken game,
hibernating in boles, burrows and nesting,
stir sap, blood and seed the season’s one claim:

this is the flood that saves the world each spring,
that weds to primal reason unlike parts.
Here I find the ancient poems of living,

whose figured senses aloud were first art,
whose stanzas of wonder made sense of being.
Before methods and measures and pie-charts,

we were child-smart, trusting our sensing,
joy and fancy, figuring animals
from clouds and shepherds from wind herding

them. In morning mists, we saw pine spires tall
as ship masts and made harbors in the sky,
roiling seas from waving leaves, and through squalls

and gusts of as or like the storm’s calm eye.

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