And so I learned what solitude really was.

It was raw material:

awesome, malleable,
older than men or worlds or water.

It was merciless --

for it let a man become
precisely what he alone made of himself.

One needed either wisdom
or tree-bark insensitivity
to confront such a fearsome freedom.

Realizing now that I lacked both,
I let myself long for company.

David James Duncan,
The River Why