Sunday Poem

Trying to Believe in Something

These nights since your death I imagine
you might be calling from under the sweetgum
where the swallows are darting beneath the leaves
that could pass for stars in a child's drawing,
darting to scoop the seeds released
from the round, spiked fruit the child
would draw too large on her page. All right—
there is no room left in the darkness for anything
except for the Indian pipe, those solitary
plants white and transparent as silence
you used to think the Indians made flutes of.
Once, we stayed all night in this grove,
unafraid, waiting for the swallows to reappear,
watching by the pure light of those plants.
I had thought I could believe in anything.
But I have imagined the stars so cold
they might as well be ash. All I know is
the gathering sound of swallows flecking
their wings white beneath the trees.
I am going to listen to them all night
where the Indian pipe grows in lichen,
gathering the seeds, believing again
that nothing stays lost forever.

by Richard Jackson
from Worlds Apart
The University of Alabama Press, 1987