I could not stop my hands clapping. I clapped
And clapped. I clapped as in the dirt the bird collapsed,
As worms grew wings, I clapped.
A man stood in a river balancing
A grape on his lips. His tears fell in the current
Swept them away. He kept performing
His trick: grape hovering over the hole
Of his open mouth and never dropping in.
I clapped and I could not stop
My hands from wanting to cover my mouth
But they would not. They clapped
And I listened to them clap—a noise
That if there were woods would echo in
The woods. But there were no woods
I could see. Only a man. Twigs in his hair.
Bent over the water where the water stood
Most still. A tree fell in the woods—
He kept speaking to his own face—
Is true if and only if a tree fell in the
Woods is true if and only if—
He kept speaking to his face in the water
As I clapped, applauding the logic
That needed no belief. Like the shadows
Of bird’s wings, the shadows of my hands
On the ground. If there were birds
I could believe in
the birds so I let myself look up.
One bird kept exploding in the sky.
One flower kept dying. Isn’t it happy? a child asked,
Everything eating the sun? Isn’t it
Happy? Isn’t it—she asked, laying down
On her back in the grass—happy?
Everything eating the sun? Isn’t it—
Copyright © 2011 by Dan Beachy-Quick. “Arcadian” originally appeared in Circle’s Apprentice (Tupelo Press, 2011). Reprinted with permission from the author.