C.K. Williams
Here and Outsets (from Of Childhood the Dark)



Uncanny to realize one was here, so much

came before the awareness of being here.


Then to suspect your place here was yours only

because no one else wanted or would have it.


A site, a setting, and you the matter to fill it,

though you guessed it could never be filled.


Therefore, as much as a presence, you were a problem,

a task; insoluable, so optional, so illicit.


Then the first understanding: that you

yourself were the difficult thing to be done. 




Even then, though surely I was a "child,"

which meant sense and intent but no power,


I wasn't what I'd learned a child should be:

I was never naive, never without guile.


Hardly begun, I was no longer new,

already beset with quandries and cries.


Was I a molten to harden and anneal, the core

of what I was destined to become, or was I


what I seemed, inconsequential, but free?

But if free, why quandries, why cries?



Found In Volume 31, No. 03
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C.K. Williams
About the Author

C.K. Williams has been awarded many honors over his long career, including an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, a Pushcart Prize, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Award. He teaches at Princeton University and lives part of each year in Paris.