As an older man, Graying, not stooped, I saw the future: Extremities Cold, tongue Sluggish, Foam at the lips. Excessive hope Seemed more Indulgent Than despair. I ran great distances. I stood in sunlight Just to see my shadow, Show it off. For the first time I remember My soul looked back. What other people learn From birth, Betrayal, I learned late. My soul perched On an olive branch Combing itself, Waving its plumes. I said Being mortal, I aspire to Mortal things. I need you, Said my soul, If you’re telling the truth.
From Draft of a Letter, Copyright © 2007 by James Longenbach. Reprinted by permission of University of Chicago Press.