Wally Swist’s recent books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012), On Beauty: Essays, Reviews, Fiction, and Plays (Adelaide Books, 2018), and Singing for Nothing: Selected Nonfiction as Literary Memoir (The Operating System, 2018). His book A Bird Who Seems to Know Me: Poems Regarding Birds & Nature (2019) was the winner of the 2018 Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Prize. Forthcoming books include The Bees of the Invisible (2019) and Evanescence: Selected and New Poems (2020), from Shanti Arts.
Salutations: after Antonio Porchia
for Richard Shaw
The fields are buttercupped
and edged with ragged robin.
We’ve entered the realm
of the subtle variegations of the colors of summer.
Wishing you well on a mid-June evening,
one on which the fading light of dusk
is struck with nothing less
than what I call an inner splendor spreading outward.
Revel in the day. Each moment offers up specific delight:
the thick sweet scent of mulitflora roses; an oriole’s bright call,
repeating itself; Deptford-pink blooming
along the southern windbreak, among yellow tansy.
Ah, you have seen the first fireflies,
the fireflies blinking in the darkness,
filling you with their otherwordly light,
marking their appearance, enrapt with wonder.
for Tevis Kimball
What we will have always
is the vision of our being bathed
in roseate and gold light,
in a reverential beauty,
in a celestial radiance,
in which I hold you always.
What we are now is that we are
changed forever since the light
enabled you to transport
your radiance for me to see
your seraphic form appear
above the divine white light
of your face, for me to be
filled with you always, for us
to be bathed is an awakening
that for us will be with us
always, a breakthrough
in which we see everything anew;
in which the spiritual power
of the awakening emanates
within us, through which
we can feel our connectedness
even over distances,
between us, always.
May we glow with each other
always, as I experience your
presence in waves, your
incandescence, always, brimming
within me, then brimming
again, always. Ask me
whatever you ask of me,
but always know when you ask me
whatever you ask me,
whenever and wherever, know
we are now one, that my answer
will be yes, and yes, again, always.
“An imaginary line between some important places such as hills, believed to be where there were very old paths . . . sometimes thought to have special powers.”
We walk up
Pine Hill Road in Conway. Saturday afternoon,
early April buds spearing up through the muddy
ground. Nearly twenty years
since we drove up the steep hill that summer
we parked beside the stone wall
of the meadow, just past the Archibald MacLeish
homestead, to picnic in the hayed meadow.
Where we now stand, Mount Monadnock
is seen clearly in the distance, in southern
New Hampshire. Towering stands of pines rock
in the brisk wind. We survey the meadow, after
twenty winters and twenty springs, the alder
grove that has sprung up, the hummocks
and tussocks that provide character
to its bumpy ground. The tangled tall grass
is tawny, before the sunlight greens it
into sheaves, then browns it again, wind-whipped
and leaning, beaten-down in places, where deer
have lain to weather the frigid winter cold.
This is where we found the grace in laying
down a memory, with a straw picnic basket,
containing sandwiches, wine, and fruit; where
we revisit, and experience how that time
still exists, will always be a part of us
and our own mythology, the winds buffeting us.
We embrace, find ourselves in the timelessness
of our lives together, reaching out for each other’s
aging hands, touching what it is
that reconnects us to the ley lines of our existence.