Nothing in Nature

Christian C. Thompson

On a fall afternoon walking across a field in Concord
Emerson was not oblivious to the colors of the leaves

yet his response was dull, without connection
between his mood and the world—nothing

in nature was equivalent to his indifference—
a rotten pear in the compost sweetened the soil,

melancholy heightened joy, but the blankness of spirit
that filled him as he walked, caused no contrast,

stirred nothing—not even regret—only wonder
at his lack of wonder, acquaintance

with what inside him was irreducible.
He recalled—a neighbor dumped beside his shed

the better part of a birch for splitting, hemlock
from which kindling could be cut—unanswered

letters on his desk, draft of an address
to be delivered next week in Boston—

nothing, for the rest of the day, would be done.
He leaned against a tree, slouched down,

watched his mind watching nothing.

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