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Joseph Harrison

(United States / Virginia)


Like the first cold trickles to slip
Between blue shingles of shale
High on a famous mountainside,
To run and pool and spill
And, 'echoing down the vale,'
Spread far and wide,
Like the first gray gull to appear
As the light fades, and sail
Past the tall buildings, floating home
To the harbor's storied repair,
Till, dot by dot, without fail,
The birds come,
Like the first tipped prong to unfold
A tentative hint of white
Against the green of the fabled tree
(Where once such fruit fell down!),
Which will, in days, ignite
Quite suddenly
Pale tier upon tier of apple blossom,
Loading its limbs and curling
Fingers, like and unlike the snow
That packed the tree with snow-bloom
During the freak storm swirling
Just days ago,
So the idea for the poem
Starts with a layered phrase,
A story, a simile, a sleight,
And though the poet may mope
Through the flat, vacant days,
Or cry at night
For the lightning he almost believes
Struck him once, long ago
(When mind was fire, and heart was song),
Something won't leave him be,
But mumbles, liquid, slow,
And pulls him along
To where the desk juts like a cliff
Above the original sea,
And the white wings flash in the sun,
And a light comes on with a flick,
And clear, emphatic, free,
The words come.

Submitted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Edited: Thursday, April 10, 2014

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