background image
the michigan quarterly review
(fall 1967)
Thinking of Roethke
by the McKenzie one evening
To the heaven of ideas I should prefer
A heaven of events, such as Roethke knew,
Or so I think as I watch the McKenzie running
Fast and smooth, blue-green to where a rock
Jolts it into a tumult, uprearing, clear white,
Surging and surging (and louder, it seems) as night
Advances. Well, Roethke, dead now about a year,
Leaned quietly to heed places like this one.
I light the Coleman, the near boulders and fi r trunks
Are suddenly cloven -- black shadow, fl at white light,
And a jumpy glitter on the black current that shows
Between the trunks. Sticks in my little fi re
Redden and bend. The time passes. It passes; quiet.
How plainly I am here, in this fl at glare.
The world is some kind of concentrate, clearly.
A mayfl y, delicate green, high-winged, alights
Awkwardly on my arm -- from a long stay under the river,
Through many moltings, the thing has come up
For the air and the light: ephemerid; `ephemeria
Phroneontes.' It fl ies off smartly into the dark.