Impermanence

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Tumble Creek flows past,
Fluid, changing, carrying
Life and death like years.

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Return

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I always thought I’d return
one day, maybe after I’d finally

gotten things together
and had something to brag about,

some big story to tell—after
I’d made a name for myself and arrived.

Now it’s been 26 years
and of course I’ve nothing

much to show for it. A few
good gardens; the day I watched

a banana spider spin her web
from start to finish; that night

I spent sleepless and saw the moon
so large and orange and pretty

that I cried, wondering at it all;
a few lines of poetry strung out

on the pages of a life
still being written.

Wendell Berry: Sabbath Poem VI, 2001

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Paul Cézanne: Mont Sainte-Victoire (c. 1887)

The question before me, now that I
am old, is not how to be dead, 
which I know from enough practice,
but how to be alive, as these worn
hills still tell, and some paintings 
of Paul Cézanne, and this mere
singing wren, who thinks he’s alive
forever, this instant, and may be.

          –Wendell Berry