A Boulder Bigger Than My House


The smell of the morning rain
has penetrated a boulder
larger than my house. Leaning
against its terrible density
I absorb that rain-smell the way
I absorbed you when you swept
from California to New England
with your intellect still intact.

Geese wheel honking overhead,
their chevrons still imperfect
but their compass-sense aligned
with polar magnetic forces
no one questions. The boulder
impresses with its indifference,
as you do. The lichen inscribed
on its west and north flanks presents
enigmas too rigorous
for botanists to transcribe;

but at this moment you’re scanning
comparable legends scrawled in gray
brain matter almost as tough
as lichen, and reading the results
to patients whose neuroses compare
favorably to mine. You learned
your trade by reading Nietzsche
and William James, ignoring Freud
and Jung, my favorite charlatans.

No wonder we’re hardly friends
any more. The rain-flavor sweetens
the forest. The geese fluster south,
following a single line of force.
As I watch the sky the boulder sighs
a very old sigh and I stroke
its cold rough expression the way
I’d stroke you if you’d let me,
the autumn-brown forest smiling
through its fuzzy, old-fashioned beard.