Today's poem is by Jonathan Fink


And though our classic view of it is wrong,
   with heavy boughs extending full to ground,

the throttled golden birds in golden trees,
   the lie is still enough to grant return.

As hope, at heart, is sorrow given form—
   the mother over grave of only child,

to weep again his absence farther down,
   beyond the grasp of darkness, sweep of rain,

believes her tears the only food he'll take.
   And what is there to give but body back

to ground, bold lovers writhing even now
   in primal garments' seamless flesh? She lifts

his fingers from her hair and draws his palm
   across her lips, kissing underside of wrist.

No, paradise is never seen, but through
   its absence, known and gone. The ancient dead,

still quarreling on river's shore, their hair
   grown out to snarled manes, their paper skin,

translucent bones, still weep for pasts once owned,
   and all beloved lives they held and lost.

Copyright © 2003 Jonathan Fink All rights reserved
from Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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