Haven't I shared all my memories already?
Sweated into ink the anchored years
When the sun drove us like a team
of plough-horses through the summer sky?
No, I’ve kept a few things back, fears now
half-forgotten, loves remembered always
but never acted upon, never sent out
into the world to meet their fates.
None of that matters now to anyone but me,
and to me only because it pointed a direction,
gave some oblique shape to the edge
of the trailing, unmapped, interior terrain.
Searching seems to me the essential calling of poets. What we do is more purposeful than simply looking, or observing, or recording our sensory perceptions, though those activities all contribute to the enterprise. The poem “Terrain” engages many of my favorite associations with language, with its equation of writing with labor and the exploration of unknown territory. The opening image feels somewhat mythical to me, with the sun driving my memories and me like horses through the sky, which seemed like a good approach to overarching concerns about how we write and what we are called to write about. I employed a technique here that I have not attempted often, to ask questions and then try to answer them in a direct way. The interior terrain is inexhaustible, and it draws us forward in pursuit of the poem; nothing could give a writer more hope than that.