after Henry Vaughan

The second time it was that smaller light
a flashlight flickers, battery almost dead
but these mazurkas lit up the Western sky
each instant panoramic, grace dechained from asking,
the declaration of a wish fulfilled
such as the full moon scatters with its silence
on the darkest dark waters at summer’s end.

The first time I experienced it in Braille
though I’m 20-20 with glasses and the shell
I stopped to reach along the beach stood still
seconds before the ground under my step
curved outward, the surface of another world.

I was the shell and on the shell.
In the interior I whorled, my own echo
my soul, the shell. There was an angel,
a fistful of wings. I’ll have to tell you
the rest tomorrow. When you’re more receptive.

Peter Cooley is Professor Emeritus of English and Director of Creative Writing at Tulane University where he taught from 1975 to 2018. His eleventh book of poetry, The One Certain Thing, was published by Carnegie Mellon in February. He is poetry editor of Christianity and Literature and was Louisiana Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.

Also by this author

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Published in the May 19, 2017 issue: View Contents
© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.