Persimmon

  • A single fruit had clung to leafless limbs
  • The entire month of ice and freezing rain.
  • It split in places round, as though seed comes
  • Out of season anyway and could retain
  • Some power to impregnate the unreceptive earth
  • Below, as though it simply need delay
  • And wait its turn for miracle and birth
  • To breathe again, and by its own long decay
  • Persuade the sweet and hidden world to bless.
  • It half persuaded me it spoke the truth.
  • I stopped and watched the muted light regress
  • Until inquisitive as a summer moth
  • I circled it in a maze imagining
  • The frost, the stars, the huddled birds all sing.

Anniversary Poem for My Wife

  • These lilies illuminate the woods on our day of light,
  • Discovered unexpectedly and Bengal bright.
  • Seeing them here transforms the path’s formidable ground
  • Into an original garden flowering unrestrained,
  • Where intimate rocks and rivulets pour moss and mist,
  • Whispering from that first thesaurus our own enchanted list
  • Of sacred names, of kings and martyrs, prophets, saints,
  • All pressed in a thirst of vellum the hungering paints.
  • This upward walk to find the water’s hidden source
  • Along half-eroded banks and leaning trees is ours.
  • Begun with a hushed half-laughing breath at the base,
  • Where the falls and winter ice or winds efface
  • The bold basalt, its slick ascent has left agape
  • Even native maidenhair, oakfern, and Oregon grape.
  • But now we know the climb, have heard the depth above,
  • Its steady swell to brimming time and trembling give.

Intruder

If an optimist is somebody who thinks everything will come out all right, I’m not. But, if it’s optimistic to think that the world is fundamentally a great wonder and a great order, yes, I subscribe to those things. – Richard Wilbur

  • A squirrel is running Qs and Ls above my head.
  • I’m listening to confirm it’s really not a rat.
  • The sun is up, and light like a warm butter’s spread.
  • But I must be sure before my toast only that
  • Another cold outcast has not snuck in to feed,
  • Has not begun to call my walls its board and cot.
  • And so I get the pellets out and move the seed
  • Just a little to one side, the usual spot.
  • The evidence is there. She’s made her little bed.
  • Some quills and leaves, gnawed wire and hair packed in a knot,
  • All gray and brown and black, but for one long pink thread.
  • I lay the small dingy bowl down and measure out
  • A quarter level cup, just as the instructions said.

John Gallagher

John Gallagher holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in English literature from the University of Dallas. He and his family live in Oregon, where he has worked on the administrative side of higher education for the past 15 years. 

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