In Their Motions

At an intersection of lanes within a cemetery,
a corner quartered, a cardinal quad, a cross, from
above, the one star in the gloaming
bright in its area—Was that a yes? It had been
a day of winking receptivity. I looked up
the word fend to see if its stave and manage
meanings had separate derivations. Haven’t.
Manage, is it, one does in the little city
of a cemetery, to stroll its arbors
completely and return to the gates?
Come to know its mounds and overhang
shag semantics and compare
what cannot be known of shade
and piano stone and serenity in
the rest of Boston. Sat right here with
a feuilleton once, wet and dry in the rain
reading, happy to feel on the page
an every now and then thump of life
and keep the thread of the narrative.
Fend is only short for defend, of course,
whereas I had expected a fennel frond
or a foil or something inner forest feeling.
Who meant it first as doing without others
who might have helped? Jackson, Thomas.
1627, in his Treatise of the Divine Essence
and Attributes: they do not direct their brood
in their motions but leave them to fend
for themselves. Not far in you find
a place from which to view the broken
families, on the knitted moss and natural
gravel beneath the juniper and fir.
I wonder who they were.

Copyright © 2014 by Brian Blanchfield. Originally published in A Several World (Nightboat Books, 2014). Used with the permission of the poet.