Guest poem sent in by Kerri Clarke
(Poem #1657) The Heaven of Animals
Here they are. The soft eyes open. If they have lived in a wood It is a wood. If they have lived on plains it is grass rolling Under their feet forever. Having no souls, they have come, Anyway, beyond their knowing. Their instincts wholly bloom And they rise. The soft eyes open. To match them, the landscape flowers, Outdoing, desperately Outdoing what is required: The richest wood, The deepest field. For some of these, it could not be the place It is, without blood. These hunt, as they have done, But with claws and teeth grown perfect, More deadly than they can believe. They stalk more silently, And crouch on the limbs of trees, And their descent Upon the bright backs of their prey May take years In a sovereign floating of joy. And those that are hunted Know this as their life, Their reward: to walk Under such trees in full knowledge Of what is in glory above them, And to feel no fear, But acceptance, compliance. Fulfilling themselves without pain At the cycle's center, They tremble, they walk Under the tree, They fall, they are torn, They rise, they walk again.
Following a recent discussion amongst friends about whether or not animals possess souls (and whether beloved pets will meet us in the afterlife), I was very happy to come across this entirely beautiful poem by James Dickey. I hope that it acts as a valuable addition to the Dickey poems already on your site. Kerri Clarke Sydney [Links] http://james.dickey.com/ contains several interesting pages on Dickey, including biographical snippets under http://james.dickey.com/life.html