Audio: Read by the author.
He found the body gross, like mutton fat,
the mind sour, as buttermilk, as crud.
Now he wakes with dawn, still in darkness,
grown old, bones creaking like a grating door.
Sometimes he feels like the farmyard mutt,
useless on three legs, all straggling hairs;
what wisdom he bears is useless as a shadow,
eyes lifeless as pond water. But he has settled
to a comforting placidity. Prayer is silence,
spirit-bones and soul-blood fluctuant as breath.
He moves toward the judgment door, and—
though humankind has mapped the galaxies,
filled grains of sand into a glass and called it
time—he knows the young man Lazarus fell asleep,
and Jesus, weeping, slowly moved to waken him.
John F. Deane was born on Achill Island, Mayo, Ireland. Founder of Poetry Ireland and Poetry Ireland Review, his latest collection is Dear Pilgrims (Carcanet).
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.