Two Poems by Leonard Nathan

Leonard Nathan


And have you also wished to leave the world
of unforgiving surface and hard time,
to enter mist and climb an autumn slope,
becoming all but invisible below
a gray and dripping baldachin of boughs
that lead to the little clearing in the woods
where much will be revealed, what love and dreams
had promised before you woke and had to leave?
And have you, even as you wished this all,
passionately wished it, nevertheless continued
in the old direction, stretching out
and out to dust, foregone and trampled flat,
because you were told to once or because—who knows—
you said you would, or something shallow as that?



When I first saw my new-born son, I saw
life would be somewhat different now for me,
as Schopenhauer warned us that it would
if we gave in to mere biology.
Of course, there was pity—pity, seed of love,
but there was more: a grown-up feel, quite new,
of separation. I saw it when my son
looked at his own first son; when he was first
shown me, I guess my father felt it too.
And so the hunter, after his freelance chase,
comes home to find another mouth to feed,
and, watching the woman lift it to her breast,
feels useless, yes, but more responsible,
and growls and frowns, and kneels to skin the kill.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation

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