December 8, 1980
In memory of John Lennon
Ice on the trees like diamonds
breaks them, some of them,
usually the weakest
but now and then one
that, reaching maturity, is just at the stage
when all sorts of shapes are possible.
When the causes of those shapes,
like storms or overgrowth of other trees that fall,
are so quickly gone, so ill-perceived and unremembered,
the surviving tree bears witness:
beauty grows from adversity
and is sustained by luck.
Knowing the chancy nature of things we look for meaning
when the expression or utterance
of their being is all we can humanly do
or groan or yell or make a song
whose voice is one person
brought down and hushed in the snow.
"December 8, 1980" originally appeared in Just Worlds (Ithaca House Books).