Poem: The Spirits Appeased by Denise Levertov
The Spirits Appeased by Denise Levertov, from Breathing the Water, 1984
A wanderer comes at last to the forest hut where it was promised someone wise would receive him. And there's no one there; birds and small animals flutter and vanish, then return to observe. No human eye meets his. But in the hut there's food, set to keep warm beside glowing logs, and fragrant garments to fit him, replacing the rags of his journey, and a bed of heather from the hills. He stays there waiting. Each day the fire is replenished, the pot refilled while he sleeps. He draws up water from the well, writes of his travels, listens for footsteps. Little by little he finds the absent sage is speaking to him, is present. This is the way you have spoken to me, the way--startled-- I find I have heard you. When I need it, a book or a slip of paper appears in my hand, inscribed by yours: messages waiting on cellar shelves, in forgotten boxes until I would listen. Your spirits relax; now she is looking, you say to each other, now she begins to see.