The Habitual Peacefulness of Gruchy: Poems after Pictures by Jean-François Millet
Self-Examination: Reflections in a Mirror
- Time once again for my six-months’ exam
- I stand before a mirror to assess
- This aging body’s state, each troubling sign
- I’ll need to show my doctor — lumps or moles,
- Tingling or numbness, belly fat or sores,
- Heart palpitations, rashes, there with things
- Beyond all cure, that sag or fall away.
- But then I see what mirrored eyes now say,
- Those portals of the soul where sheer light sings
- Till mind will discipline while love implores
- The flesh to give itself to old controls
- So virtue every sin might soon confine
- Till soul is more and more, the body less
- And who I should have been is what I am.
September Ends: Last Crickets at the Bridge
- Late summer hovers near
- In early fall,
- Old pre-dawn pall
- Of hot damp dark and all
- We know and fear.
- Night sweats its star-bead stream
- Down nothing’s brow,
- Light’s here and now
- That leaves stark depths somehow
- A twinkling dream.
- Yet where lamps shine through planks
- Male crickets chirr,
- Their wings a-whirr
- Till females pine and stir,
- Fertile on the banks.
- Soon frost will touch their eggs
- Laid warm in loam
- That brings back home
- Through winter gleam and gloam
- Spring’s fecund dregs.
The Footbridge in a Late October Fog
- Above this wordless earth’s unechoing cave
- Of shades, a hunter’s moon, at bay in fire,
- Stays cold and golden, relegated light
- That parleys with the dark, its silent sire.
- And on that earth I stalk in chalky air
- Through mottled swaths of fog, freshwater salt,
- Tracking the bridge, its ghostly post-lamps dim
- In glimmerings where moon-rays cross and halt.
- And there, half-blind, and dumb, I come to stand
- Befuddled, gazing first upstream, then down
- Through paling condensations, grounded clouds
- Suspended from the current’s muddy brown.
- These waters bear from fountainhead to gulf,
- From Minnesota snows to Breton Sound
- Below a moon whose quiet light declares
- Fires dwelling in the stellar wells profound.
Mr. Middleton is Poet-in-Residence, Distinguished Service Professor, and Alcee Fortier Professor at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. His books of verse include The Burning Fields, As Far as Light Remains, Beyond the Chandeleurs, and The Habitual Peacefulness of Gruchy: Poems after Pictures by Jean-François Millet.
Middleton has served as poetry editor of The Anglican Theological Review and currently serves as poetry editor for The Classical Outlook and the national quarterly Modern Age.