Daniel Tobin

August 10, 2015 Tobin Daniel



It abides in secret on my pencil tip—
Greenland graphite, fossil bodies, the spans
of lost beginnings hoarded from the deeps
into softest stone across geologic time
to bring its word here for the wind to edit,
dawn quickened in folds of a stringent pool.
So life leaps from non-life, leaps outside the loop
of the un-living factum, the material pit,
to ride the sudden unfolding of a tide,
billions of years passing, before it snaps
into the billowing the sea-vents emit;
before it steadies, permeates, picks up speed
to surface dimly from the thrumming deeps.

There at the latest summit, another pool
in another random smattering of time
rounds out the new like a thought on the tip
of a tongue. To parse intent across vast spans
requires faith, or brief belief in the self-edit-
ing savvy of an always avid tide,
prodigal matter surging at Cambrian speed—
such selahs in the shales!—so another welter snaps
across scales, loop by impossible loop,
like a flicker from the Godhead’s fingertip,
everything bodied, so even the stones emit
Perhaps, accounting, one might venture time
the mirror in which the Face reflecting it
sustains this aching flow from the very pit
of things, edge-less edge, below the deeps.
The longing eye looks from a shallow pool
at all that is, infinitesimal bridge that spans
across absence the way a synapse snaps
into mind, into place. Nothing can stem it.
Picture a loop that evolves into a loop,
how always something new leaps from the tide,
everything burgeoning borne at light speed,
though momently all looks destined for the pit.

An epitaph is not the final tip that snaps
one back into the deeps—sad, digressive pool.
The loop that is everything emits such speed
it spans the tide that will edit time, all, yes, into all.

Daniel Tobin is the author of nine books of poems, including From Nothing, winner of the Julia Ward Howe Award,The Stone in the Air, his suite of versions from the German of Paul Celan, and most recently Blood Labors,named one of the Ten Best Books of 2018 by the New York Times. He is also the author of the critical studies Awake in AmericaPassage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, and On Serious Earth, forthcoming in 2019. Tobin has edited The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Light in Hand: Selected Early Poems of Lola RidgePoet’s Work, Poet’s Play: Essays on the Practice and the Art (with Pimone Triplettand To The Many: Collected Early Works of Lola Ridge, which received a Special Commendation from the Poetry Society. His poetry has won the “The Discovery/The Nation Award,” The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, the Stephen J. Meringoff Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.