Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Four Poems for Robin

Siwashing It Out Once in Suislaw Forest

I slept under     rhododendron
All night    blossoms fell
Shivering on	a sheet of cardboard
Feet stuck   in my pack
Hands deep    in my pockets
Barely  able    to   sleep.
I remembered    when we were in school
Sleeping together   in a big warm bed
We were     the youngest lovers
When we broke up     we were still nineteen
Now our   friends are married
You teach  school back east
I dont mind     living this way
Green hills   the long blue beach
But sometimes	  sleeping in the open
I think back    when I had you.

      A Spring Night in Shokoku-ji

Eight years ago this May
We walked under cherry blossoms
At night in an orchard in Oregon.
All that I wanted then
Is forgotten now, but you.
Here in the night
In a garden of the old capital
I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao
I remember your cool body
Naked under a summer cotton dress.

    An Autumn Morning in Shokoku-ji

Last night watching the Pleiades,
Breath smoking in the moonlight,
Bitter memory like vomit
Choked my throat.
I unrolled a sleeping bag
On mats on the porch
Under thick autumn stars.
In dream you appeared
(Three times in nine years)
Wild, cold, and accusing.
I woke shamed and angry:
The pointless wars of the heart.
Almost dawn. Venus and Jupiter.
The first time I have
Ever seen them close.

           December at Yase

You said, that October, 
In the tall dry grass by the orchard 
When you chose to be free, 
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have 
Gone by: I've always known
         where you were-- 
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had 
Lived many lives.
And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my 
        karma demands.

Credit


From The Back Country, by Gary Snyder. Published by New Directions, copyright © 1968. Reprinted with permission.

Author


Gary Snyder

The author of numerous books of poetry and prose, former Chancellor Gary Snyder won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the 2012 Wallace Stevens Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, among others.

Date Published: 1968-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/four-poems-robin