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But what an absurd thing life is, looked at superficially, so absurd you feel yourself forced back on a stubborn, desperate, faith in the reality of the survival of the spirit. Otherwise—were there no such thing as the spirit, I mean—we should have to be idiots not to call off the whole human effort.
————-——Teilhard de Chardin

Let the inhabitants of the rock sing…
————-——Isaiah 42:1


(His Stone)

Again, this dawn-lit incandescence through the yew trees,
and down the slope, the river scrolling the length of itself
in every purl and ripple. When years ago they set me

to attest his life among the growing human increase
under grass, I had long been lifted from the groundmass,
soft grained, sun blanched, vaguely crystalline, his name

cut into me plainly with his beginning and his end,
and the frozen earth unwilling to lay him to his rest,
for this man to sleep the sleep of trust, the sleep of seed

in the winter field. “It is a terrifying thing to be born,
to find oneself, without having willed it, swept along
on a torrent of fearful energy,” still I hear him say.

Or maybe I only think I hear him, as if I were his “god
of iron,” a childhood’s distant dream, infinitely durable,
not my weathering granite shield against effacement.

What comes at the very end, he said, is the adorable.
To this padlocked field behind the shuttered church
I watch them swing the gate to scan the identical rows

along the tarred path pillowed by decades of moss
until they find me, each one leaving their gift of stone
on my crest, and sometimes it is, in that stillness,

as if I am the river moving along with the layers,
light pouring over me, pouring through me, light
speeding from so far away it has no past or future.



Daniel Tobin is the author of nine books of poems, including From Nothing (Four Way), winner of the Julia Ward Howe Award, and most recently Blood Labors (Four Way), named one of the best poetry books of 2018 by the New York Times and the Washington Independent Review of Books.




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