Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Poem Stays

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Sacramento

—Alastair Reid

Perhaps the accident of a bird

crossing the green window, a simultaneous phrase

of far singing, and a steeplejack

poised on the church spire, changing the gold clock,

set the moment alight. At any rate, a word

in that instant of realizing catches fire,

ignites another, and soon, the page is ablaze

with a wildfire of writing. The clock chimes in the square.

All afternoon, in a scrawl of time,

the mood still smoulders. Rhyme remembers rhyme

and words summon the moment when amazement
ran through the senses like a flame.

Later, the song forgotten, the sudden bird
flown who-knows-where, the incendiary word

long since crossed out, the steeplejack gone home,

their moment burns again, restored

to its spontaneity. The poem stays.