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In A Motel Parking Lot Thinking Of Dr. Williams

by
 I.
The poem is important, but not more than the people whose survival it serves, one of the necessities, so they may speak what is true, and have the patience for beauty: the weighted grainfield, the shady street, the well-laid stone and the changing tree whose branches spread above.
For want of songs and stories they have dug away the soil, paved over what is left, set up their perfunctory walls in tribute to no god, for the love of no man or woman, so that the good that was here cannot be called back except by long waiting, by great sorrows remembered and to come by invoking the thunderstones of the world, and the vivid air.
II.
The poem is important, as the want of it proves.
It is the stewardship of its own possibility, the past remembering itself in the presence of the present, the power learned and handed down to see what is present and what is not: the pavement laid down and walked over regardlessly--by exiles, here only because they are passing.
Oh, remember the oaks that were here, the leaves, purple and brown, falling, the nuthatches walking headfirst down the trunks, crying "onc! onc!" in the brightness as they are doing now in the cemetery across the street where the past and the dead keep each other.
To remember, to hear and remember, is to stop and walk on again to a livelier, surer measure.
It is dangerous to remember the past only for its own sake, dangerous to deliver a message you did not get.

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