The Middle of the World

by Samuel Hazo

Call it the dark wood’s year. Call it a year
of hell and mountains and a guide to keep
at bay the leopard, lion and the wolf.
Call it something! I am ripe for parables.
My only mountain is the one I climb
to work, and I am tired of climbing it.
The up-and-downing mornings slash and cut

to dust my threescore years and ten. Divide
by two, and here I stop. Midway and rushed,
I keep what I started with: my father’s name,
my mother’s eyes, righthanded ways with forks,
pencils, fights and good handshakes, no real
philosophy of pain, a few vague doubts
in God, some fear of death and no regrets.

In similar darkness Dante searched for peace
from devil’s ice to stars. Today I smirk
at years when men could rhyme their way to God
as they could love, beget and die on the same
mattress. I have no tooth for comedy,
and there is hell enough on earth to jar
me loose from poetry for life. I fear

God’s underlings who damn the innocent
and kill the merciful. If I could climb
from zero to the holy peak, I still
would say that any sparrow’s fall defines
the yea of heaven and the nay of hell.
I rhyme no answers from the cold and far.
I ask no more than starlight from a star.

Last updated January 09, 2015