After the end of something, there comes another end,
This one behind you, and far away.
Only a lifetime can get you to it,
and then just barely.
Littlefoot, the eighteenth book from one of this country’s most acclaimed poets, is an extended meditation on mortality, on the narrator’s search of the skies for a road map and for last instructions on “the other side of my own death.” Following the course of one year, the poet’s seventieth, we witness the seasons change over his familiar postage stamps of soil, realizing that we are reflected in them, that the true affinity is between writer and subject, human and nature, one becoming the other, as the river is like our blood, “it powers on, / out of sight, out of mind.” Seeded with lyrics of old love songs and spirituals, here we meet solitude, resignation, and a glad cry that while a return to the beloved earth is impossible, “all things come from splendor,” and the urgent question that the poet can’t help but ask: “Will you miss me when I’m gone?