“After a Winter of Grieving” by Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill


Before I traveled my road I was my road.
—Antonio Porchia

No road leads the way.
The road follows behind.
—Takamura Kotaro

With the moon so bright,
I could not sleep, the garden
glowing in cold white light.

I rose, dressed, and went out
to the deck to sit in the cold and think.

The April moon was full and high,
almost big enough to burst,
haloed by a ring of sparkling light
and a few bright stars.

The garden Buddha, a pretty boy,
wore an apron of moss.

The old Moon Watching Pavilion,
where I watched this moon with my daughter
nearly thirty years ago,
rots under the katsura tree.

I watched the first gray light begin to seep
through the trees before
the first robin arrived. Each gain,
each loss, had a name I could not speak.

Denise called this, “A kind
of Paradise,” this logged-off scrappy land
I came to thirty years ago,
impoverished by my needs.

Paradise is a sometime thing,
wherever one might make it—
a river of stones, bamboo, a foreign tree,
building a home alone—

and this same old moon,
eternally new
in geologic time.

The road to Kage-an is gone.
Don’t ask me where I’ve been.
The road out is the road in.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004


Sam Hamill: “I grew up on a ranch in Utah, a farm in Utah, and my old man, my adopted father, loved poetry. And he would sometimes recite poetry while he worked. And he would explain to me, the rhythm of the work would help you decide what poem to sort of say. The way you sometimes hum or sing when you work—well, he recited poetry that way, and I think that was what first turned me on to poetry.” (website)

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