“Sustenance” by Art Nahill

Art Nahill


In these few unclaimed hours,
my wife has been weeding her way
through the garden, stepping

mindfully among the arugula
and lettuces, the lavish tomatoes,
a blue heron of contentment,

arms, bared to rounded shoulders,
deliberate, precise in their reach
and recoil.

Upstairs, my newborn son is stirring,
fumbling at the latch of consciousness,
pacing, I imagine, the empty halls

and anterooms of sleep, dreams
before language, before color,
climbing like a bubble

to the surface of a warm, clear lake.
By this open window,
an occasional breeze lifts

the linen curtains, ghosting
through a book of poems
by Pessoa:

In everything I saw, part
of me remained.

And so I take it all in,
these totems of the quotidian,
these things that sustain me

when my life rises up and shakes itself
like a great dog, these pebbles
which finally teach me to speak.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2004

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