The Flowing World

By Maurice English

(a boy nine years old)

The blowing wind, the wind blowing away
Summer and all its shreds, balloons and bags,
Blows without budging much
My boy hale on the lawn, hilarious.

Summer and all its shreds? Of course;
But this wind blows
Steadily all day long
The sun into the west, the clouds away,
Blows sleet or silky weather, and snuffs out
Night’s smithereens of light, whirls in
All seasons, whirls them round
My boy bold on the lawn, exhilarate

Tensing to take the wind that warps towards him
Years and years and years;
Strangers and friends, fields, cities, galaxies,
And wraps them round his hands,
Around his heart; a wind that blows
Quickening to his seed,
Tears to his eye,
Trenches in brow and jaw,
Men for his games and wars,
Companions, enemies; a wind that blows
Young girls with gawky loves, and one or two,
Yearning, on a flame, a wind within the wind;

Blows coin into his purse, steel to his fist,
Blows yes and no across his lips;
Blows shouts of joy and grief, blows rage, blows sleep.
My boy staunch on the lawn, bewildered now

How all goes storming past:
Cities blown down, seas blown away,
Sight blown away, and blindness; love
Whirled to a gutter or a firmament
Around and round with hate,
Indifference and despair;
And all the whirling people, all the gains
And losses, lies and truths,
Portents and prodigies,
Papers, possessions, gifts, and governments,
Song, color, work and play,
Ill done and well done, if and perhaps and but,
All, all, caught up, caught up
With the grasses at his feet – look, winter-withered –
With parents in their graves and children toward them
And my boy drowned on the lawn, drowned and swept off

In the flowing world, the world flowing away.


"The Flowing World" by Maurice English, published in Midnight in the Century (Prairie School Press, 1964).