Radiant the delayed calmness
-Do you feel it, I said. -Yes, you said,
of what only each can know,
kernel of radiance, the globo terrestre
of a water drop, not the passing adaptations
of canonical light, but seconds stilled-
our hearts beating through the moments-centuries
of the next tick of a watch relieved,
a world enough in time to imagine
Piero walk to work across cobblestones
toward a completion, his close attention
to sunlight passing through shadows
owned by the sharp angles of buildings,
sunrays warming what they touch.
Piero, first a painter, is not a monk.
He will make what welcomes light
a source of light: slow the day
he will add lucent black wings
to white feathers of the magpie
ever alight on a roof-edge.
I found a feather on a stone, feather I thought
from the angel's wing, that arc of light
held aloft in descent, shared with us
and Constantine in his dream.
I think of a white egret returning home near
the high creek, through unwavering
evening light, to sleep, sleep at Sansepolcro,
where we were headed in a rental car.
About this poem
"My son Will (a painter) and I were on the 'trail' of Piero della Francesca: Perugia, Arezzo, Sansepolcro and Monterchi [Italy]. Very soon after we stepped from the chapel in Arrezzo, the experience described in the opening lines of the poem occurred. The poem explores the intersection of circumstances simultaneously in time and outside of time: The eye feels what it sees."
About James Brasfield
James Brasfield is the author of "Ledger of Crossroads" (Louisiana State University Press, 2009). He teaches at Penn State University and lives in State College, Penn.
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The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.
(c) 2014 James Brasfield. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate