I am a temple of the Holy Spirit…

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Debtors


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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