By Michael Rutherglen Michael Rutherglen
About the radiant heart   
of the matter, valencies   
      Hagar and Ishmael, cast   
         on the wide desert,   
drift, and a placeless voice   
draws them to water   
                              St. Elmo,   
eyes scorched, preaches them   
to the lightning touching down   
close, blackening the deck   
around him, disclosing tars   
          transfixed in the rigging—   
all the yard-arms were tipped   
with a pallid fire, writes Melville,   
            lamplit, landlocked   
            at Arrowhead Farm   
            and in the wilderness the boy   
became an archer
                        I read   
again, then wandered the house,   
turning off the fluorescents   
and the news on the flat screen—   
raw sun on the saltwater and ice,   
a tank tread sprawled in the sand   
like a snarled length of spine—   
            and went out to listen   
to the cloud fields foredarkened   
with charge and ask again   
         into that synapse   
by what light will I see   
as even now I am seen?

Source: Poetry (December 2008).


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

December 2008
 Michael  Rutherglen


Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Michael Rutherglen is the recipient of a 2012–2013 Amy Clampitt fellowship and a 2008 Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, the Antioch Review, Mid-American Review, and 9th Letter, and the Southern Review. He is one of the founding editors of The Winter Anthology,  a nascent collection of 21st century international . . .

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Poems by Michael Rutherglen

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SUBJECT Religion, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Poetry & Poets

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