Poem: ‘The Whisper’

Jim Harrison measures his life and soul after the death of his wife in this poem, written at the end of his life.

jim harrison, pencil sharpener
Blaise Zerega

I’m learning the difficult terrain
of the heart of darkness. No maps
are available. Light never enters
there. The brain is helpless
which is fine. I depended on it
too much to no avail. The brain
is what I am or so they say but I sense
another element, perhaps the soul
I’ve never written about. When my wife
died I lost the motive for life and fell back
on the cushion of the soul which is everything
I can’t account for in life. The moon whispers tonight
the sun in leaden gravitas doesn’t want to rise
in a world of beheaded children.
We have been abandoned with what we see.
Our lives aren’t good but passable,
our mortgages and cancer loom. But birds
lead us outside where we belong.
Around here all the gods live in trees.•

© 2021 James T. Harrison Trust. Excerpted from Jim Harrison: Complete Poems, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press on October 26, 2021.

This poem appears in the Fall 2021 issue of Alta Journal.

Jim Harrison (1937–2016) was the bestselling author of nearly 40 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
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