Made to Measure

By Stephen Edgar b. 1951 Stephen Edgar
Impossible to wield
The acreage of the fabric that unfolded,
Slung from his shoulders like a crumpled field:
The distance from one Christmas to the next
When he was only seven
Was aching there; a foreign city flexed
Among the ripples; a face, the star-shocked heaven
About his flailing arms were shrugged and moulded.

Too heavy to outrun,
Too slow to measure what it underwent,
Though gradually the passage of the sun,
Unmanageable in its train of light,
Seemed almost to respond
As he yanked the yards of stuff in like a kite
And gathered the brocade that trailed beyond
His arms' reach to the scale of measurement,

However strange the weave
That writhed about the working of his hands:
The footage too atrocious to believe,
Printed with corpses; Greece; the falls of salmon;
Her upturned silken wrist
He would have torn out history to examine;
His father's final blessing, which he missed.
However far he comes or where he stands,

At last, and limb by limb,
Contour by contour, that unfolded cape
Settles ever more fittingly on him.
His forehead is the line of the sky's vault,
His shoulders trace the ground,
His palms the ways he wandered by default,
And in his gestures those he knew are found.
What shape the day discovers is his shape.

Source: Poetry (January 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2008
 Stephen  Edgar


Stephen Edgar was born in Sydney, Australia. He studied classics and English at the University of Tasmania and has worked as an editor and a librarian. He is the author of the poetry collections Queuing for the Mudd Club (1985), Ancient Music (1988), Corrupted Treasures (1995), Where the Trees Were (1999), Lost in the Foreground (2003), Other Summers (2006), and History of the Day (2009).   A lyric formalist, Edgar probes the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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