Ode to What Settles

by Toni Clark
The Waters
Third Place, August 2011
Judged by Tyehimba Jess


What settles is what stays

after the transience of houses
after the horses and the boulders

particles, dust and ash, leaves
and water after the wind’s ruffling.

The fog in the valley, mist on the pond.

What’s left when the rest has burned
or blown, what drifts toward twilight.

And after the chaos of yellow windows,
evening deep into the hills.

The silence when you open the door
to an empty sky, the sparrow on its bare branch.

Our rooms late in the day, creaking
and sighing, the rocker coming to rest

sediment in the bottle, the last
of the wine in the glass

our bodies gone quiet beneath the blanket,
lives into a pattern, knowledge into the bone.


Ode to what settles meditates on the all that we are, from the dust to the sound of the bed to the drift toward mortality. The author knows balance and tone and risk. ---Tyehimba Jess

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