Nearer the Truth

Perhaps I will say, The day has broken,
or, The morning has come, as if
it were merely a matter of sitting here,
waiting for colors to make their first faint

when I know itís not like that, when itís
nearer the truth to say Iíve stepped out
to meet it as I always do, mute, barefoot,
and tuning the strings of my attention;
when I, too, have broken, have risen
from the dark and found a horizon; I, too,
have turned toward the light like a planet.

Thatís a mystery, I might say, as if
the thing doesnít make its own perfect sense,
doesnít follow a native logic of neuron
or simple survivaló

when I know thatís not true; when itís only
my parting the branches with my question
or sifting the usual dust when this
gold appears; when all Iím saying is
I donít know, and any microscope or dog
could nose-out the plain truth.

If I say of my father that he has passed,
it is always away, as if distance
or a new wall were the only truth, nowó

when I know thatís not how it is at all;
when he goes ahead and I follow,
admiring, same as ever, only now
heís taken that huge stride straight into
the center of me, into a space there
I thought Iíd made ready but got wrong.
Heís passed into, not away; to follow
means seeing myself new, same as ever.

So, I will say, I have spoken my mindó

when I know thatís not the half of it;
when really Iíve spoken the cerebellumís
music and balance, the reptilian brainís
flickering tongue; spoken my comings-from
and arrivals, my failures to arrive;
spoken my poured-over pages, my bodyís
changes, my question after question;
spoken this earth I travel, lovingly, even
that armís-length shaft dug out of it
into which I have handed down ashes.

Steven Reese teaches at Youngstown State University in Ohio.† His second book of poems, American Dervish, will appear from Salmon Press in 2011.† A selection of his work has recently been translated and published in Cuba. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761