Poem from Hölderlin

As from dark orchard leaves, from quiet scripts
where each shape sends its tendril reaching—
circle and line, the swaddled bud, the petiole 
sprung, an envelope tendered.
By a window, the infant 
turns, rooting
toward the breast,
the mother humming.
(Those far things, sources 
of power and
cliffs and waves, 
at a distance.)
           Here you’ll find
a name scrawled in the bark—
last words, left to chance
and strangers.
            There, the black ant, burdened 
by a crumb, and the weight
of her lacquered armor,
switching, doubling 
back—gnarl and crevice and 
cul de sac.
driven on, and trembling,
does she have a notion 
of her own, or is it 
only species 
fearless, so abstract?
because it is winter everywhere, 
            I spin my cocoon
            I dig my heart a grave
Indifferent, a blossom 
drifting, the knob swelling, 
the leaf turned to
shadow: filigree, smudged. 
The petiole now brittle in 
the first cold nights.
                        The burden, relieved, 
weighs all the more
from the guilt 
of its release.
Too light, too light, like a sudden 
waking, the sun in your eyes: 
you cannot see for it.			
How long will we live 
in this leaf-strewn place, 
thinking we belong
to the sky?

Copyright © 2017 by Susan Stewart. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 22, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.