Whatever Became of Me


Richard Shelton


because the moon comes
straight up from the mouuntain
like the hidden possibility of madness
escaped for everyone to see
and the wandering stars
who are said to rule our lives
wander on in darkness
I feel a need to lie down among the stones
and caress any of them
who have survived


I always looked for what I wanted
in the wrong places
until the desert
taught me to want what I found
now on summer nights
I sit in the garden
where it is hot and dry
and young stones grow like weeds
when the moon turns
a mad white face upon me
having nothing to offer I hold up
my empty hands
it is so easy to be happy


this morning a woodpecker woke me
practicing on his drum
and all afternoon cicadas rang
like the telephones I haven't answered
I am what has become of me
a man who lives in the desert
where coyotes wail more skillfully
than hired mourners
at the funeral of an Eastern king
where every night the stars
whose light I have not earned
and will never deserve
return as if to keep a promise
and even the rain
when it falls is coming home

From Selected Poems 1969 - 1981 by Richard Shelton, © 1982 Richard Shelton. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
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