The Final Cause is not Power but Consciousness, Says Anaxagoras

by Frank Stewart

This year there is not enough rain, the smallest pond
is deepest and holds its burden well.
But the widest is closing its eye. Its breast

has grown thin, and the selvage of its blouse
is damp, soiled, and wild.
Paradise is where our losses are,

and we love affliction for reminding us
of our long attachment to this
paradise of creatures.

Today I chop my daylillies into slivers
and strip their green trousers from them
and break their fibrous legs.

And in another day they are resurrected.
And in another they are the most civilized
and showy nation in the meadow.

And the galaxy slows
and sends a legate for their wisdom.
From my window I watch

as the wild turkeys
gather in the buckwheat, tossing their heads
and losing their dignity. We love them

for the distance they keep, and
the way they refuse to console,
except by their endurance.

In the evening, they rise into the trees
on clattering wings to sleep.
This beauty is the sum of everything,

or it is a nothing and imaginary.
I watch the fire plunge the oak branches
into the fierce and brittle secret of the stove.

They pile their hungry voices in stretto
about the cast-iron darkness, exhaling
ashes pure and pale as dust.

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