Glory of plums, femur of Glory.
Glory of ferns
on a dark platter.

Glory of willows, Glory of Stag beetles
Glory of the long obedience
of the kingfisher.

Glory of waterbirds, Glory
of thirst.

Glory of the Latin
of the dead and their grammar
composed entirely of decay. 

Glory of the eyes of my father
which, when he died, closed
inside his grave,

and opened even more brightly
inside me.

Glory of dark horses
running furiously
inside their own

dark horses.

Related Poems

From the Country Notebooks

after Brigit Pegeen Kelly

I.

Once upon a time, my father was offered a shovel
and ten minutes alone with the prized stallion—Just don’t
kill him.    Once upon a time, I asked about the apple-
knotted scar on my father’s back shoulder, as he dressed
for work: That’s from when Sammy tried to kill me.
Remember?    Once upon a time, my father accepted a shovel
and the problem of answering violence without loosing
too much blood from Sammy’s chestnut body, nervous
in the stable.    Once upon a time, I watched my father dare
to ride Sammy, who had only known breeding—: things
went fine, until his muzzle grazed a live wire that sent him
bucking, first with and then without the weight of my father
perched on his saddled back. Every witness there
broke open into a song called laughter.    Once upon a time,
my father couldn’t trust himself to spill just the blood
owed, and so chose torture’s slow ember over a quick-
flamed revenge:—for one long week, Sammy submitted
to the pull of hunger, easing his desire through
the narrow stall bars for a mouthful of sweet oats,
and then the shovel’s handle came down like lightning
across his beautiful face. My father did this
twice each day, despite the wounded wonder delivered
upon both creatures.    Once, Sammy escaped
and it took a lifetime to corral again the full force
of that gallop—to gather back the spirit and grace
of that temporary, hot-hearted freedom.

 

II.

My mother said I should not do it,
but all night I turned the horses loose.
The farmhouse slept, the coyotes hunted noisily.
I was a boy then, my chest its own field flowered by restlessness.
How many ropes to corral a herd?
I had none but a stubborn concern with steady hands
and the darkness of the summer wind which moved right through me
the way the coyotes moved through the woods with voices
that seemed to mourn the moonlit limits of this release
and those who had prayed for release before me.
I pulled each horse through the opened barn doors,
all night out into the pasture with little resistance, all night my hands
buried in manes as if I were descending into a new understanding,
all night my path a way toward recovery.
And then carrying its own kind of clemency, against
the tall forest of sharp pines, the morning came,
and inside me was the deep-pitched presence a howl builds
at the lonely center of its bawl, before the throat
remembers again that other sweet mercy, silence.
The light climbed into the pasture.
The coyotes were crying and then were not.
And the pasture was—I could see as I led
the last warm body to field—full of memory and motion.

Jim Limber in Heaven Writes His Name in Water

You walk through Heaven anywhere to any-

where on that soft green grass    or nowhere it

Don’t matter anywhere you walk a bright

And cool and it’s about    a foot-wide stream of

The cleanest water anywhere with each

Step you take parts the grass beside you

On your left side    if you’re left-handed

And on your right side otherwise just reach

 

Down if you’re thirsty or you’re dirty or

You’re hot    they got the sun in Heaven still

And folks get hot sometimes    me    sometimes I

Walk just to see the stream appear

Sometimes I lead it    through my name    on Earth I couldn’t spell

My name now my great thirst has been revealed to me

Elegy, Surrounded by Seven Trees

for Michele Antoinette Pray-Griffiths

Ordinary days deliver joy easily
again & I can't take it. If I could tell you
how her eyes laughed or describe
the rage of her suffering, I must
admit that lately my memories
are sometimes like a color
warping in my blue mind.
Metal abandoned in rain.

My mother will not move.

Which is to say that
sometimes the true color of
her casket jumps from my head
like something burnt down
in the genesis of a struck flame.
Which is to say that I miss
the mind I had when I had
my mother. I own what is yet.
Which means I am already
holding my own absence
in faith. I still carry a faded slip of paper
where she once wrote a word
with a pencil & crossed it out.

From tree to tree, around her grave
I have walked, & turned back
if only to remind myself
that there are some kinds of
peace, which will not be
moved. How awful to have such
wonder. The final way wonder itself
opened beneath my mother's face
at the last moment. As if she was
a small girl kneeling in a puddle
& looking at her face for the first time,
her fingers gripping the loud,
wet rim of the universe.