Friday, October 06, 2006

Snow Over Shavers Fork

I've been reading many amazing poets since I got to Mizzou, and one of them is definitely Brian Barker, whose first book, "The Animal Gospels," came out from Tupelo not long ago. So, here be the poem from it that made my neurons burn wonderfully a few days ago, in the way Larry Levis's nature metaphors kindle them, too. It's got the same breathtakingly gentle, meditative pacing that Wayne Miller can really nail, where the speaker is this beacon of quiet and depth and the spoken-of receives an even-handed love.

Snow Over Shavers Fork

Rhododendrons droop
under the white weight of winter,
and the highway-blue suspension bridge, a lacquered mesh of ice,
turns to milk-glass
in the slow pan of a pick-up's single headlight.

Tonight, not even the river avoids indifference, as it churns
deep in its groove,
from here to there and back again,
flashing its eggshell palms in the icy wallow.

Duped again by silence,
by the undertow that drags the slate sky down
to the tips of the pines, by the mountain's chalk-blur shifts,
by the snow bogging down, speechless
syllables claiming a void---

I know this of the fleeting world: the falling down,
not the rising up,
the snow persisting in its silence,
and my hands too human to hold it.


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