Week 532: Question, by May Swenson

I confess that there is much in the work of more recent American poets that I feel not quite attuned to, as if it were written in a language that is clearly more or less English yet whose words, as in a dream, won’t quite come into focus. But I do like this poem by May Swenson (1913-1989), that reflects the difficulties that those of us most rooted in the physical have in conceiving of an existence independent of our body: our fleshly house, our faithful steed, our good bright questing hound.

Question

Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

May Swenson

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