Andrew Grace, Thermos‘s blog poet for late July, is the author of two collections of poems, A Belonging Field and Shadeland. His third collection, Sancta, from which these poems are taken, is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press. Enjoy.
The moon snitches on a clutch of skunks. Another rack of cloud scrolls over. At times, the eye seems charnel house of the known, and can only be slaked by novelty: that lavish other. It wants to turn down a corner of paradise. But tonight the eye seems instrument only, stunned as a lighthouse’s strobe. The marred moon hectors itself clear as if witness is all I am good for.
Better than reading a tree’s rings to learn its history is to see its torn roots after it has fallen in wetlands, its pale foundation laid bare by untenable mud. A Medusa’s head: blind roots caught mid-grope, as if trying to nurse the dry air. It is a wreath of struggle. Now lichen and bracket mushrooms set up their frail kingdom. I almost believe God cannot be unkind to us.
I stoke the stove livid. I want to treat dry heat like a mirror: in that low belly of blue efficiency, form is undone more honestly than ever. Better than earth, which feigns to embrace what enters it. Better than the willful tantrums of air. Better even than water, which removes but preserves forms in the museum of no eye. Let my attention feed like fire, from the inside out.
Out walking, stirred a sorority of sparrows. I am not sick or well; I am luke-sick and free. This is the Chapter where wood and water stand quite still and I make nothing of it. I could say, Do penance and disappear. Or When I die you will find swamp oak written on my heart. But I’ll not even kneel. My mouth is seamed as a scar, debarred and redeemed.
There are shoeprints in front of the cabin—some hunter bent on silence in the glassy fields, some stranger who could eye me from afar and see me as their own ghost, take my hesitations along the slick path as their regrets, my switchbacks as repentance, my leaving as their choice to return to the lush sleeve of their bodies. Blessed are the risen. May the risen-from also be blessed.