by Denise Levertov, from Breathing the Water, 1984
Three men spoke to me today.
One, bereaved, told me his grief, saying
Had God abandoned him, or was there
no God to abandon him?
One, condemned, told me his epitaph,
'Groomed to die.' On Death Row he remembers
the underside of his gradeschool desk, air-raid drill.
He never expected to live
even this long.
He sticks his head back down between his knees,
'not even sad.'
One, a young father, told me
how he had needed his child, even
before she was conceived.
How he had planted a garden too big to hoe.
He told me about the small leaves near his window,
how he had seen in them their desire to be,
to be the world.
With this one I sat laughing,
eating, drinking wine. 'The same word,'
he said, 'she has the same word for me and the dog!
She loves us!'
Every day, every day I hear
enough to fill
a year of nights with wondering.