Your Body Already Seems to Know

Hurricane Mountain, August 2011

No Path
by David Whyte, from River Flow: New and Selected Poems 

There is no path that goes all the way. 
Han Shan

Not that it stops us looking
for the full continuation.

The one line in the poem
we can start and follow

straight ahead to the end. The fixed belief
we can hold, facing a stranger

that saves us the trouble
of a real conversation.

But one day, you are not
just imagining an empty chair

where your loved one sat.
You are not just telling a story

where the bridge is down
and there's nowhere to cross.

You are not just trying to pray
to a God you always
imagined would keep you safe.

No, you've come to a place
where nothing you've done

will impress and nothing you
can promise will avert

the silent confrontation,
the place where

your body already seems to know
the way, having kept

to the last its own secret
reconnaissance.

But still, there is no path
that goes all the way,

one conversation leads
to another,

one breath to the next
until

there's no breath at all,

just
the inevitable
final release
of the burden.

And then, wouldn't your life
have to start
all over again
for you to know
even a little 
of who you had been?