Northbook, 1982

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To the north, on bright days you may be seen
in your chariot drawn by white cats
moving across the fields, across the sky
blue-robed, your hair gold-streaming

You do not acknowledge shadows or the grave:
of your thousand lovers you will save some few
according to your sole desire and choice
to live the aftertime with you.

To obtain the immortal necklace you gave over
your body to dwarfs, who used it loathsomely,
but you remained untouched by their disease—
as gold that's steeped in dung will still be gold.


You have a big hammer
to solve all your problems with . . .
Effective to a point, but not always apt.

When the time comes for making fine discriminations,
you head for the hills with that thing on your shoulder
looking for giants whose heads you can pound.

You kill the giants.
But more keep turning up
and anyway, the important problems seem to lie elsewhere—
like right back at home, in the gardens of the gods.

It's not easy to find your way through such tangles
and at times you admit you feel wasted . . . Still,
you enjoy your meals, stay cheerful, and make ready for
the end.