In the wilderness, with
great stairs of forests rising, she asked, “Are you still
innocent?” “Yes Momma, yes,
but only here,” I said, walking toward a clearing, a white
door lying in a field, the sun shining
on it, and the clouds puffing light over the grass never so green
and my body growing small with time.
Acquainted with the Green
Body, body, nobody. Supposing him
to be a gardener. In leaves, chrome
mirrors, outside, beyond the body full of
beginning. Now the light won. The tomb he
left like a wild animal its cage in spring.
inside a stone I’ve
carried all my life it’s
about the radiance,
fire in the eyes of every
animal moving among
woods in snow one
remembers arrows of green.
I was approaching I saw every
thing that once was I saw her birth-
ing saw the infant crying saw her
joy saw him, father go to work farther
each day saw him return saw the baby grow
up the trees all this I saw approaching saw
the boy go to school sometimes looking toward
me closer to him. Saw his mother grow older
saw his father buried, farther, saw taller trees saw
doors closing, growing too in the house I was
approaching only mother now tall and skinny the house
like a steeple I was getting nearer the boy now
a man like me graying too growing taller. We
were close. We were ready to. “Mark, how wonder-
ful,” she said, but the house now a line was gone.
Mark Irwin is the author of six collections of poetry; the last three include White City (BOA, 2000), Bright Hunger (BOA, 2004), and Tall If (New Issues, 2008). Recognition for his work includes four Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, NEA, and Wurlitzer Foundations. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern California.