“Faith” by Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro


In no beyond or elsewhere all too bright
or dark to see by; not in the chilly joy
of preemptive mourning, the voodoo exchange of veil
for ghostly face, but in the veil itself,
the dazzle of quick shade becoming redtipped
flare of wing igniting as the hawk
banks in the last light before it drops from sight
to rise again with something in its talons;
and also in the talons, in the stunned thing
still twitching, though it can’t escape, because
“The beauty of nature is the silence of God,”
and silently just now across the valley,
down the mountain pasture, the shadow of wind
is grass that turns grass into shadowy water,
setting the green adrift with greener rippling.

from Rattle #23, Summer 2005


Alan Shapiro: “To me, the only thing that has kept me going through the years, as a writer, is that deep, private, self-forgetful joy that I feel when I’m working. When you sit down at the table and it’s eight o’clock in the morning and then you look up and it’s, God, it’s three o’clock in the afternoon. All that time has gone by as if in a single moment. And in that prolonged moment, you were completely given over to the task at hand, you were joyful, even if you were writing about how joyless your life has been. Because you had totally forgotten everything but the poem you were trying to make.”

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