“Come into animal presence”

by Denise Levertov

Come into animal presence
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.

The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn’t
quicken his trotting
across the track and into the palm brush.

What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.

Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.

from Poems: 1960-1967. © New Directions, 1983.

With Madagascar, Andasibe, Lemurs, Chameleons and all things great and small found in a Naturalist’s Promised Land my focus. This poem resonates within – ‘Come into Animal Presence.’ – I do. I will. I am. Thank you The Celsius Journal 1414.

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