Pilgrim Heights

Something, something, the heart here 
Misses, something it knows it needs 
Unable to bless—the wind passes; 
A swifter shadow sweeps the reeds, 
The heart a colder contrast brushes.

So this fool, face-forward, belly 
Pressed among the rushes, plays out 
His pulse to the dune’s long slant 
Down from blue to bluer element, 
The bold encompassing drink of air

And namelessness, a length compound
Of want and oneness the shore’s mumbling 
Distantly tells—something a wing’s 
Dry pivot stresses, carved 
Through barrens of stillness and glare:

The naked close of light in light,
Light’s spare embrace of blade and tremor 
Stealing the generous eye’s plunder 
Like a breathing banished from the lung’s 
Fever, lost in parenthetic air.

Raiding these nude recesses, the hawk 
Resumes his yielding balance, his shadow 
Swims the field, the sands beyond, 
The narrow edges fed out to light, 
To the sea’s eternal licking monochrome.

The foolish hip, the elbow bruise
Upright from the dampening mat, 
The twisted grasses turn, unthatch, 
Light-headed blood renews its stammer—
Apart, below, the dazed eye catches

A darkened figure abruptly measured 
Where folding breakers lay their whites; 
The heart from its height starts downward, 
Swum in that perfect pleasure 
It knows it needs, unable to bless.

Used with permission of Princeton University Press, from Corrupted into Song: The Complete Poems of Alvin Feinman, edited by Deborah Dorfman, 2016; permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.