Frank Stewart

Country: United States
Language(s): English

And a Winter Evening Azrael’s Shadow Darkens the Garden

The volcanic smoke shoulders in and lingers, turning the daylight
gray as blighted fruit, the night starless as a stone. Muffled sounds ruin
in the swales and a chainsaw drones all the next day. Thought needs light,
like lancing, you decide. Then turn again until dusk to fixing broken
splicing barbed wire brittle with rust—broken and pronged as matted
in high grass, this mindless tackle of a harried farmer, or the harsh,
snapped-off phrases
of someone who renounces love. In the guava thicket beyond the second
you’ve discovered the deflated flesh and leathery glue of a fallen steer,
the wrecked carcass broken, and already turning into stench and bright
What was soft hardens, and what was firm flows like sap or dries to chalk.
Above you
the loquat are in full gold, a wild rose tangled in this one, nodding,
You are amazed at how tirelessly it all contrives without anyone’s
though more doggedly without the blue ignition of the cloudless autumn
Tonight it rains. There are still neither instructions nor fictions in the
no eclipse to draw your thought together in a symbol. I believe in
that has never been said before, wrote Rilke. If there is to be no guest, then
let it be a divine one who refuses to knock. And let him fill up this void
with the real
and the present, even if it’s darkness, the inconsolable goats calling, the
in a fever to reach the rough ciborium of the bay, the wild, coral-
spanceled                   sea.

The Final Cause is not Power but Consciousness,
Says Anaxagoras

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.