“Almost” by Mark Jarman

Mark Jarman


Almost grasped what Grandmother Grace knew
Last Sunday sitting in church, almost knew
What Alexander Campbell grasped when, confronted
With the desolate orphan, he told her, “You
Are a child of God. Go claim your inheritance.”
Almost got it. There it was in the sunlight,
Squared in the clear glass windows, on the durable leaves
Of the magnolia outside. Almost grasped the weather
That turns clear and crystallized in Hans Küng’s brain.
Almost held it in the ellipses and measure
Of my almost understanding. I see the moment
There in my notebook, then the next day’s anxiety
Spilling like something wet across the ink.
I almost put in my hand a vast acceptance
And almost blessed myself, then it slipped away.
All that colossal animal vivacity—smoke
Of the distant horizon, most of it, haze.
But to have known in any place or time
What they knew is worth a record, a few notes.
Almost knew what they knew. Almost got it.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006


Mark Jarman: “It took me years to figure out that one of the biggest influences on me as a writer had been the fact that I lived in a house with someone who had to write something every week, get up in front of bunch of people, and basically perform it. It was my father writing sermons.” (web)

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