As artists, we have to find the antidote to this darkness right now, to how everything feels so compressed rather than expanded.
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Last year’s cattails stand mummy-like
around the small pond
overhung by cloudless blue and penned
by waist-high reeds and tent moths.
This pond’s overgrown, algae basting
on the surface. We broke the stillness
nonetheless just to cool our blood
stewing from a long day of little
breeze. Last night we got back late
from a visit and walked in the
unaccustomed dark, but fireflies
let loose such a show we felt all
heaven had kneeled and the stars
had bowed their heads to bid us
welcome to black night. Decisions
and death are far from us in such dazzle;
birth comes in the coolness and notions
of all dispiritedness dissolve.
That night was its own elixir—morning
will come and day will heat the stones,
and who will kneel and bow
from heaven to us ever again?
What can lend more praise to shadows of
tree limbs on the ground, to the bright curves
around them outlining the sun, than the shapes
of those shadows themselves. And what can lend
more praise to love, to the bright giving
of each to each outlining love’s form,
than the shape of love itself. So let me spell out,
or attempt to contour, what can’t be spelled,
what only love can outlove. You are you
who casts the spells on my anything
and anything takes the spell, for having
your shape to take it by, more shapely.
Maple trees and oaks in the sun shadowing
over one another lend to me all that is mine,
and every shape shadows I’m all yours.
Nature of the Sun
A calico sits placid in the corner of the yard,
the ash tree by the house is dead, or dying,
and lilacs blooming conical along the road let go
their multiple scents, the fragrance that I love!
How to sustain the antinomy as antimony, the one and the many,
to keep the single violet purple in the mind
as gray clouds languish into one large sky-field.
Numerous robins hop the large green fresh-mown yard;
across the road a field of dandelions not yet metamorphosed
sways in the evening breeze.
If language is the highest form of culture
and poetry the highest form of language,
then poetry’s the dying ash tree
or the lively calico curled in the corner of the yard.
If the form of culture is the bloom of the day,
if a single violet can purple the mind,
if worms in a field of fresh-mown grass are metamorphosed
by the hunger of numerous words;
then lilacs will fragrant language and language.
dandelions and robins beneath a field of gray clouds,
hops and sways in an evening breeze.
A purple pansy in a Mexican pot,
configurations of petals in a cool breeze.
Waiting for the afternoon heat to recede
before it arrives is the time to consider
the nature of the sun. Young maple leaves are green
in the wind and though the sleeping dog is black
dandelions are lazy and yellow.
Then the breeze moves down deep
into the workings of what we see:
blooming lilac branches against the tall house swing like giraffes’ necks;
hummocks in a nearby swamp are shaggy haired;
we haven’t seen any quail but the color of quail is in the sky.
If history is history of the mind,
of the workings of yellow, or gray,
or the sounds of an elephant passing in the forest,
if the past is what the past likens to what it thinks,
if summer weeds and their delicate
white flowers remarkable in the coolness
are only what birds fly over in their secret quests,
then the bottom of our lives, and the time we’ve held
surface-like in our palms, are nothing
but vows we endure for the sake of the sun.
Cory Brown is a poet who lives and works in Upstate New York.