by David Swerdlow
In this story of the hermit saint, one stoic thorn
from the rose honors the responsible
with blood and pain.
The moonlight, like an open door, questions and answers us.
When God stumbles on the front step,
only the Balkan mole takes notice.
I’m seen sitting under the elegant elm,
understudy to the sky
that glows like the secrets inside our bodies, the blind
choreographers of loneliness.
The hermit studies to forget the taste of communion,
to forget the lover’s mouth,
the melodic press of wine-drenched lips stunned
at the last moment of the last night,
those sweet tongues lazy with lust
and finesse, those dim roses diminished
and falling down, the delivery
of all their exhilaration and unhurried love.
God never pockets the night, never corrects
his course over the neglected stones
and the nervous world, over
those who know too much.
I’m almost lost
admiring the laurel and lavender, the smooth
silhouette of the horse going up the hill
when I think I hear the hermit
as the moon moves behind the elm.
The workless work of God gets done by the mole
and his pink emissaries.
The dutiful stars remember.
David Swerdlow’s poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, The Laurel Review, and elsewhere. He has published two collections of poetry with WordTech Editions: Bodies on Earth (2010) and Small Holes in the Universe (2003). In 2019, his first novel, Television Man, was published by Czykmate Productions. Swerdlow teaches literature and creative writing at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.