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To the Pied Piper at Thirty
19 March, 1978
Your flute is hewn of second growth
and carved by patient touch.
It attracts of itself those who smell
the hand-rubbed grain, hand-given oils;
and those who hear in its beige warm tones
the several melodies it at once sings.
Pied Piper, the sounds hang along
the seldom noticed wanderings:
the leaf, the neck of deer, the eyes of hawks
move as your aftertones.
Your dress is of the hunter as you roam,
but also the beast, who, startled
in his solitude, will break
for heavier brush and his gold-colored den.
I seek you there—not among the children;
the melody, illusive and withdrawn
to them before the sitting,
lures by indirection.
I come, rather, as the artisan of flutes:
knowing a wood; that certain place of fingers;
the lips that burn through a tempered air.
I seek the hunter and the beast within,
the hunter within the beast, and too,
the piper who would hesitate at being found.
Knowing your history, and your fond regard
for hiding, even from the artisan,
I wait without the melody for speech
to invite me in, await the calm
of a beast cornered within himself
and the sure treaty between hunter and hunter
as territories outreach.
And I am, Pied Piper, the hunter–beast
the sound engages. I, who raised my ears
along the creekbed, sought the sound
and hushed the hunger—to hear again.
I am, Pied Piper, the hunter–beast
who waits without the den.