Can you meet the gaze of a child, can you wander over it into purest seeing, can you meet the gaze of a child and would you then see lakes of eternity in her eyes, his eyes, can you, will you, would you meet the gaze of a child and go down Moses and Mary and all the saints, all the Godsmacked ones, will you touch the petals of a flower and thereby enact the miracle of tenderness where talus and cliff-face reign, can you meet the gaze of a child or will she will he tremble for all you have and have not done, the child watching you, staring at you as does the whole blank universe of silence whose stars are watchers as so many points of light that yet hold and cherish your every breath, your every waking, did you meet the gaze of a child when beauty first touched you, first held your hand in the valley of the most holy salvage, the renegade verb and the wild, wild words who have been stalking you all your life, was the child there, was the child also coming for or waiting in the middle of a field, was the child perfect with not knowing, with hearing the wind as foremost teacher and oracle and all the wild animals and the wind sighing of what is everlasting and true in this beautiful world, was the child is the child can the child be again in the midst of every joy and sorrow, every holding of flower, can you meet the gaze, the stare, the open eyes of the child, those worlds upon worlds upon plunging, can you meet the gaze of a child down by a river by a stream by a hollow with birds singing where you cannot see only hear them somehow in the child’s eyes who watch not to see what you do but who you are past the deer’s bounding and the swooping of an owl’s wings deep in the forest and mercy of sunlight stippling through the trees.
Robert Vivian is the author of The Tall Grass Trilogy, Water And Abandon and two meditative essay collections, Cold Snap As Yearning and The Least Cricket Of Evening. His first poetry book is called Mystery My Country—and he’s co-written a second called Traversings with the poet Richard Jackson. He teaches at Alma College and as a core faculty member at The Vermont College Of Fine Arts.
Robert has a new book of dervish essays called Immortal Soft-Spoken which was published this June by Awst Press.