Corson's Inlet

A. R. Ammons

I went for a walk over the dunes again this morning
to the sea,
then turned right along
    the surf
                rounded a naked headland
                and returned

    along the inlet shore:

it was muggy sunny, the wind from the sea steady and high,
crisp in the running sand,
        some breakthroughs of sun
    but after a big

continuous overcast:

the walk liberating, I was released from forms,
from the perpendiculars,
        straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds
of thought
into the hues, shadings, rises, flowering bends and blends
            of sight:

                I allow myself eddies of meaning:
yield to a direction of significance
like a stream through the geography of my work:
    you can find
in my sayings
            swerves of action
            like the inlet's cutting edge:
        there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:

but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:

in nature there are few sharp lines:  there are areas of
        more or less dispersed;
disorderly orders of bayberry; between the rows
of dunes
irregular swamps of reeds,
though not reeds alone, but grass, bayberry, yarrow, all . . .
predominantly reeds:

I have reached no conclusions, have erected no boundaries,
shutting out and shutting in, separating inside
        from outside:  I have
        drawn no lines:

manifold events of sand
change the dune's shape that will not be the same shape

so I am willing to go along, to accept
the becoming
thought, to stake off no beginnings or ends, establish
        no walls:

by transitions the land falls from grassy dunes to creek
to undercreek:  but there are no lines, though
    change in that transition is clear
    as any sharpness:  but ``sharpness'' spread out,
allowed to occur over a wider range
than mental lines can keep:

the moon was full last night:  today, low tide was low:
black shoals of mussels exposed to the risk
of air
and, earlier, of sun,
waved in and out with the waterline, waterline inexact,
caught always in the event of change:
    a young mottled gull stood free on the shoals
    and ate
to vomiting:  another gull, squawking possession, cracked a crab,
picked out the entrails, swallowed the soft-shelled legs, a ruddy
turnstone running in to snatch leftover bits:

risk is full:  every living thing in
siege:  the demand is life, to keep life:  the small
white blacklegged egret, how beautiful, quietly stalks and spears
        the shallows, darts to shore
                to stab -- what?  I couldn't
    see against the black mudflats -- a frightened
    fiddler crab???

        the news to my left over the dunes and
reeds and bayberry clumps was
        fall: thousands of tree swallows
        gathering for flight:
        an order held
        in constant change: a congregation
rich with entropy: nevertheless, separable, noticeable
    as one event,
            not chaos: preparations for
flight from winter,
cheet, cheet, cheet, cheet, wings rifling the green clumps,
at the bayberries
    a perception full of wink, flight, curve,
    the possibility of rule as the sum of rulelessness:
the "field" of action
with moving, incalculable center:

in the smaller view, order tight with shape:
blue tiny flowers on a leafless week: carapace of crab:
snail shell:
        pulsations of order
        in the bellies of minnows: orders swallowed,
broken down, transferred through membranes
to strengthen larger orders:  but in the large view, no
lines or changeless shapes:  the working in and out, together
        and against, of millions of events:  this,
                so that I make
                no form

orders as summaries, as outcomes of actions override
or in some way result, not predictably (seeing me gain
the top of a dune,
the swallows
could take flight -- some other fields of bayberry
        could enter fall
        berryless) and there is serenity:

        no arranged terror:  no forcing image, plan
or thought:
no propaganda, no humbling of reality to precept:

terror pervades but is not arranged, all possibilities
of escape open:  no route shut, except in
    the sudden loss of all routes:

        I see narrow orders, limited tightness, but will
not run to that easy victory:
        still around the looser, wider forces work:
        I will try
    to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing complete,
        that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.

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