To Look at Any Thing

      by John Moffitt

To look at any thing,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say,
“I have seen spring in these
Woods,” will not do—you must
Be the thing you see:
You must be the dark snakes of
Stems and ferny plumes of leaves,
You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.


This, to me, is a poem about haiku, in the manner of Bashō, who said to “learn of the pine from the pine.” In Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach, edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003. Originally from The Living Seed, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1962.