A. R. Ammons
Above the Fray Is Only Thin Air

How do you account for things: take night

before last, a dry night, still, leaves from


the maple by the driveway worked a solid

semicircle on the driveway, really pretty but


thick: I raked it up in the afternoon: but

last night around midnight a drizzle that


turned slowly into a quiet rain started and

kept up till day and after day: but not more


than a few leaves fell, and plenty are still on

the tree: except right at the tip of some


branches, now stick sprays, where, by the way,

the hornets' nest rides right out in the open,


stiller than a balloon: but, I mean, why

didn't the weighted wet leaves come down, even


in bigger droves than on the dry night: my theory

founded on guesswork is that the dry night got


so dry it got crisp, and crisp cracked off the

stems from the branches: and so the leaves


just fell off: they didn't need any breeze or

rain: is that wonderful: do you suppose it's


so: who knows: maybe the night of the crisp

fall was really no more than a bear climbing


up there and shivering the tree, shaking them

down: I would just as soon know the answer to


some things as how a galaxy turns...

Found In Volume 26, No. 02
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A. R. Ammons
About the Author

A. R. Ammons wrote nearly thirty books of poetry, among them Glare(W.W. Norton, 1997); Garbage (1993), which won the National Book Award and the Library of Congress’s Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; A Coast of Trees (1981), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry; Sphere (1974), which received the Bollingen Prize; and Collected Poems 1951-1971 (1972), which won the National Book Award.  He lived in Ithaca, New York, where he was Goldwin Smith Professor of Poetry at Cornell University until his retirement in 1998.  A. R.Ammons died on February 25, 2001.