& then afterward

By Nate Pritts b. 1974 Nate Pritts

(i)
 
I woke to early sun:
burning of fire, & then afterward.
 
We kept reaching
through the long night.
 
 
(ii)
 
Afterward,
 
the small deceptions
we allow ourselves:
a sickness, unchecked.
Like this:
 
 
(iii)
 
& first sunlight.
Snow continues.
I could never close my eyes to light.
 
But there was no light
& you looked like night.
 
 
(iv)
 
There must be a pattern,
 
snow slow-dropping in wet clusters
through the wooden arms
of empty trees.
 
 
(v)
 
Sun fingering its way
through branches
 
I’d hung my life on.
We don’t matter a bit; realization
forces our eyes closed—
 
 
(vi)
 
A sickness, unchecked, like this.
I’d hung my life on
 
burning of fire, & then afterward.
 
 
(vii)
 
Our arms together
we searched for patterns
 
& sunlight.
 
 
(viii)
 
Our arms laced together,
pointing together
over wind-tossed grasses.
 
Us: waist deep in night blue.
 
 
(ix)
 
There was no light.
You pointed.
 
 
(x)
 
Sun overhead,
you pointed
to the wind-tossed grasses.
This is a memory now.
 
 
(xi)
 
Together in that first sun,
so vivid:
there must be a pattern
 
I’d hung my life on.
 
 
(xii)
 
Snow dropped in clusters,
staggered & jagged.
 
We don’t matter a bit.
 
 
(xiii)
 
Reflected in lake water:
all these things I’ll forget.
 
 
(xiv)
 
Our arms together
 
but we keep reaching
over the wind-tossed grasses.
 
 
(xv)
 
Black smoke curling:
 
the importance
of night-blue field grass,
 
 
(xvi)
 
the importance of.
 
The stars are close; we try to hold together.
 
 
(xvii)
 
All this ends
but until then:
 
burning of fire, & then afterward.
The stars are close; we try to hold.
Such distance between the fallen!
 
 
(xviii)
 
Burning of fire, & then afterward.
 
You pointed.
 
 
(xix)
 
Grasses silently fold,
a sickness, unchecked, reaching. Like this.
 
Wooden arms of trees
long since emptied.
 
 
(xx)
 
This ends in darkness,
& all the stars within reach,
& other constellations.

Nate Pritts, "& then afterward" from The Wonderfull Yeare (a shepherd’s calendar). Copyright © 2009 by Nate Pritts.  Reprinted by permission of Cooper Dillon Books. www.cooperdillon.com

Source: The Wonderfull Yeare (a shepherd’s calendar) (Cooper Dillon Books, 2009)

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Poet Nate Pritts b. 1974

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Love, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Refrain, Series/Sequence

 Nate  Pritts

Biography

Founder and editor of H_NGM_N literary journal and H_NGM_N BKS, Nate Pritts was born in Syracuse, New York. He earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College in 2000 and a PhD in creative writing and British Romanticism from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, in 2003. His full-length collections of poetry include Sensational Spectacular (2007), Honorary Astronaut (2008), and The Wonderfull Yeare: a shepherd’s calendar (2010), Big . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Love, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Refrain, Series/Sequence

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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