I Looked for Life and Did a Shadow See

By James Galvin b. 1951 James Galvin
Some little splinter
Of shadow purls
And weals down
The slewed stone
Chapel steps,
Slinks along
The riverrock wall
And disappears
Into the light.
Now ropy, riffled,
Now owlish, sere,
It smolders back
To sight beneath
A dwarfish, brindled tree
That chimes and sifts
And resurrects
In something’s sweet
And lethal breath.
This little shadow
Seems to know
(How can it know?
How can it not?)
Just when to flinch
Just where to loop and sag
And skitter down,
Just what to squirrel
And what to squander till
The light it lacks
Bleeds it back
And finds
My sleeping dark-haired girl —
O personal,
Impersonal,
Continual thrall —
And hammocks blue
In the hollows of her eyes.

James Galvin, “I Looked for Life and Did a Shadow See” from Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Resurrection Update (Copper Canyon Press, 1997)

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Poet James Galvin b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 James  Galvin

Biography

James Galvin is the author of several collections of poetry, including Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975–1997 and X (2003); a novel, Fencing the Sky (1999); and The Meadow (1992), a prose meditation on the landscape of the Wyoming-Colorado border and the people who live there.

Galvin’s work is infused with the genuine realities of the western landscape, while at the same time not shirking difficult questions of faith, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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