[L]ater you still entertained, at least as hypothesis, the notion of a not impossible love, requited passion; or resolved modestly to learn some craft, various languages. And all those sparks of future winked out behind you, forgettable. So— the present. Its blessings many today: the fresh, ornate blossoms of the simplest trees a sudden irregular pattern everywhere, audacious white, flamingo pink in a haze of early warmth. But perversely it’s not what you crave. You want the past. Oh, not your own, no reliving of anything—no, what you hanker after is a compost, a forest floor, thick, saturate, fathoms deep, palimpsestuous, its surface a mosaic of infinitely fragile, lacy, tenacious skeleton leaves. When you put your ear to that odorous ground you can catch the unmusical, undefeated belling note, as of a wounded stag escaped triumphant, of lives long gone.
Denise Levertov, from “The Past III,” Sands of the Well (New Directions, 1996)