still

Still

By AR Ammons

I said I will find what is lowly

and put the roots of my identity

down there:

each day I’ll wake up

and find the lowly nearby,

a handy focus and reminder,

a ready measure of my significance,

the voice by which I would be heard,

the wills, the kinds of selfishness

I could

freely adopt as my own:

 

but though I have looked everywhere,

I can find nothing

to give myself to:

everything is

 

magnificent with existence, is in

surfeit of glory:

nothing is diminished,

nothing has been diminished for me:

 

I said what is more lowly than the grass:

ah, underneath,

a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:

I looked at it closely

and said this can be my habitat: but

nestling in I

found

below the brown exterior

green mechanisms beyond the intellect

awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

 

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:

I found a beggar:

he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying

him any attention: everybody went on by:

I nestled in and found his life:

there, love shook his body like a devastation:

I said

though I have looked everywhere

I can find nothing lowly

in the universe:

 

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,

transfigurations of size and shape and place:

 

at one sudden point came still,

stood in wonder:

moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent

with being!

From The Selected Poems: 1951-1977, Expanded Edition, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1986 by A. R. Ammons.

I was on retreat this past week, and I even found the bathroom beautiful.  It seems to have followed me home, together with the many positive effects of the week at the monastery.