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Poems by Peter Cole
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Improvisation on Lines by Isaac the Blind

by Peter Cole

Only by sucking, not by knowing, 
can the subtle essence be conveyed—
sap of the word and the world's flowing 

that raises the scent of the almond blossoming, 
and yellows the bulbul in the olive's jade. 
Only by sucking, not by knowing. 

The grass and oxalis by the pines growing 
are luminous in us—petal and blade—
as sap of the word and the world's flowing; 

a flicker rising from embers glowing;
light trapped in the tree's sweet braid 
of what it was sucking. Not by knowing 

is the amber honey of persimmon drawn in. 
An anemone piercing the clover persuades me—
sap of the word and the world is flowing 

across separation, through wisdom's bestowing, 
and in that persuasion choices are made: 
But only by sucking, not by knowing 
that sap of the word through the world is flowing. 

From Things on Which I've Stumbled, copywright © 2008 by Peter Cole. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
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