Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

In Thai Binh (Peace) Province

I’ve used up all my film on bombed hospitals,
bombed village schools, the scattered
lemon-yellow cocoons at the bombed silk-factory,

and for the moment all my tears too
are used up, having seen today
yet another child with its feet blow off,
                   a girl, this one, eleven years old,
patient and bewildered in her home, a fragile
small house of mud bricks among rice fields.

So I’ll use my dry burning eyes
to photograph with in me
dark sails of the river boats,
warm slant of afternoon light
apricot on the brown, swift, wide river,
village towers–church and pagoda–on the far shore,
and a boy and small bird both
perched, relaxed, on a quietyly grazing
buffalo.               Peace within the
                          long war.

It is that life, unhurried, sure, persistent,
I must bring home when I try to bring
the war home.
                               Child, river, light.

Here the future, fabled bird
that has migrated away from America,
nests, and breeds, and sings,

common as any sparrow.


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