The only one with anything like
your mother's unsettling green eyes,
how long I have learned to love you, Rachel.
Everything's hard to make much sense of,
but if I were to give
any advice to a child of mine,
I'd say this much about staying alive:
lie low while you can, but if
you simply have to stand up
keep clear of the edge, or at the worst
be sure you have measured the drop —
and that's of course supposing
a high unbroken ground
with room to move and air so clear
you can see for years around.
Not everywhere is like that: you'll find
valleys cut like a scar
where the woods are thick, the water dead
and it's hard to know where you are:
this is the scary country
where bogles might be hiding —
move carefully, trust to your luck, but watch
anything smiling, scowling, gliding
or crumpling: they're all too hungry,
likely to gobble you up in a flash …
But even murk-wood is prettier than
the cities and ports where men go smash.
There more than ever you have to beware
and learn to follow your nose,
especially if you drift too near
to the rowdy spots where the good gang goes:
that's where you watch out for the hoods and dips,
the people who live on their nerves,
the suckers and the parasites
who eat out on whatever life serves.
Look out for the swingers, high-flyers, cool cats,
and if you just have to prowl
stay close to the zoo where the real tigers are
and look and blink like an owl.