Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Arcadian

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—

Credit


Copyright © 2011 by Dan Beachy-Quick. “Arcadian” originally appeared in Circle’s Apprentice (Tupelo Press, 2011). Reprinted with permission from the author.

Author


Dan Beachy-Quick

Dan Beachy-Quick is the author of several books of poetry, including gentlessness (Tupelo Press, 2015).

Date Published: 2018-08-03

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/arcadian