I am a temple of the Holy Spirit…



by Jim Harrison

They used to say we’re living on borrowed

time but even when young I wondered

who loaned it to us? In 1948 one grandpa

died stretched tight in a misty oxygen tent,

his four sons gathered, his papery hand

grasping mine. Only a week before, we were fishing.

Now the four sons have all run out of borrowed time

while I’m alive wondering whom I owe

for this indisputable gift of existence.

Of course time is running out. It always

has been a creek heading east, the freight

of water with its surprising heaviness

following the slant of the land, its destiny.

What is lovelier than a creek or riverine thicket?

Say it is an unknown benefactor who gave us

birds and Mozart, the mystery of trees and water

and all living things borrowing time.

Would I still love the creek if I lasted forever?
Jim Harrison, “Debtors” from Complete Poems. Copyright © 2011 by Jim Harrison. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, coppercanyonpress.org.

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