(Author's note. I'll be damned if I remember writing this, but it has to be mine because I can't find it anywhere else. As I Walked Out One Evening by W. H. Auden is perhaps my favorite poem, so maybe it got the juices flowing. In any case, I must have borrowed some imagery here and there. Auden I'm not, but we must wade in.)
As I went out one morning
Walking the primal road
My shoulders were bent over
With an invisible load.
And down by the creek where the salmon
Sing all day in the spring
I heard a man with holes in his clothes
Say, “Love has no ending.”
I wondered at his heresy
He wasn’t supposed to speak
Of things he did not understand
And shouldn’t even seek.
“I love you, Lord, I love you,”
the ragged man proclaimed,
although his face was badly scarred
and his body bent and maimed.
The man was clearly crazy
For as he spoke his rhyme,
The salmon danced in the shallow stream
In fish-determined time.
I didn’t try to love him
But I loved him just the same
For he broke the diver’s quivering bow
And called his God by name.
“Oh tell me, man, oh tell me,”
I cried in my anguished state,
“What is the secret of the world?
Where is the end of hate?”
And all at once his face had changed
To an evil, ugly mask
His body had become the hate
About which I had asked.
“How stamp this mask into the mud,
How keep despair at bay?”
“You can’t,” he told me, grinning,
“But my God can point the way.”
“How dare you speak of God, you wretch,
When God’s abandoned you?
How dare you use the Holy Name?
He doesn’t want you to!
Your life’s just spent surviving
With the sidewalk as your bed
And taking poisons in your veins
And scrambling to be fed.”
The man just stood in leaves and mulch
While the salmon sang and spawned:
“Just see the other side of me
And tell me I am wrong.”
Another face appeared just then
A face all beaming bright
Its eyes were streaming like the sun
With pure mysterious light
“You blinded fool, you stand before
A drop of mist made rain
An eye that Paradise looks through
That holds both joy and pain.”
“I cannot understand you, for
You play such games with me!
How can you masquerade as God
And tell me how to see?”
“No one knows how Life began,
From Nothing came our birth.
A stir of seething molecules
Sparked all the life on earth.”
“Don’t tell me, wretch, you are the one
Who made this world come true!
Imposter, get out of my road,
I cannot look at you.”
“Just so,” the man said, streaming light,
“For no one knows the why.
But you will be forever changed
By looking through my eye.”