corydon & alexis

By D. A. Powell b. 1963
shepherdboy?   not the most salient image for contemporary readers
nor most available.   unless you’re thinking brokeback mountain:
a reference already escaping.   I did love a montana man, though no
      good shepherd

rather: a caveman, came spelunking into that grotto I’d retreated to

what light he bore illumined such small space—physically, temporally

and did he have a grove of beech trees?   no, no grove
but together we found an old-growth stand of   redwood

we gouged each other’s chests instead of wood:   pledges that faded
he was not cruel nor I unwitting.   but what endures beyond any

example: he took me to the ocean to say farewell.   I mean me: farewell
      to ocean
the ocean, for that matter, to me.   us both fatigued, showing signs
      of wreckage

and that man I had loved stood back from the edge of things

he did not hold me

I expected not to be held

we all understood one another: shepherd understudy, ocean, me

and did he go back to his fields and caves?   yes, but they were gone
strip-mining, lumber, defoliant, sterile streams: you knew that was

weren’t we taught some starched sermon: the pasture awaits us

back up a moment: the forest you mentioned—remember, instead of a grove?

untouched for the most part.   some human damage, but not ours

we left no mark, not there in the midst of those great trees:   
not in the concentric rings that might have held us far past living

instead, I put that man, like so many others, on paper—
a tree already gone from sight where once it had drawn the eyes
upward: the crest of a mountain.   crumpled thoughts, crumpled love

shepherdboy, do you see the wild fennel bulbs I gathered for you
olallieberries, new-mown grass, the tender fruits of   the coastal fig?

I put them on paper, too, so fragile.   for nothing is ever going to last

                                                                               For Haines Eason

“corydon & alexis” first appeared in Poetry Magazine. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Poetry (September 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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September 2006
 D. A. Powell


Born in Albany, Georgia, D.A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Cocktails was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. His next two books were . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Love, The Body, Poetry & Poets, Heartache & Loss


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