(Johann Siemens/Unsplash)



Not being here, he can’t see
this inky portrait of a tree,
much less the tree against the sky
which is the limit of the eye,

reminding us that the cost
of Paradise is that it’s lost.
While Heaven fitted in a puddle
like a ship is His rebuttal.



We shrug at shade like wind or fog, though in autumn
gusts of paper-shuffling in lofty offices
will roil a lawn like God’s face on the waters.
True, these don’t shake the thrones of thickened things —
a banker’s manse sprawled on its throne of lawn,
where heavy elms warn lovers to move on.
They’ll fall in time the way all despots fall:
first the midget in his braided tunic,
then his statue toppled with a rope.
And though we’d rather have an apple than
the apple’s shadow, it’s not wrong to think
how clouds as vast as ranches sadden Kansas.

Don Barkin has published poems in Poetry, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest, Commonweal, Prairie Schooner, and other magazines. He is the author of three full-length books of poems, That Dark Lake (2009), Houses (2017), and The Rail Stop at Wassaic (2020).

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Published in the July/August 2021 issue: View Contents
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