It is difficult to say all things are well,
When the worst is about to arrive;
It is fatal to woo yourself,
However graceful the posture.
Loved heart, what can I say?
When I was a lark, I sang;
When I was a worm, I devoured.
The self says, I am;
The heart says, I am less;
The spirit says, you are nothing.
Mist alters the rocks. What can I tell my bones?
My desire’s a wind trapped in a cave.
The spirit declares itself to these rocks.
I’m a small stone, loose in the shale.
Love is my wound.
The wide streams go their way,
The pond lapses back into a glassy silence.
The cause of God in me—has it gone?
Do these bones live? Can I live with these bones?
—Theodore Roethke, from “What Can I Tell My Bones?,” in The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (Knopf Doubleday, 2011)