for what is given

by Dale McLain
Wild Poetry Forum
Second Place, January 2013
Judged by Deborah Bogen


I saw the fallen stars in the orchard yesterday,
well not an orchard but a stand of pear trees
bent and knobby as that jazzman from Metairie.
I walked there to give my thanks up to the wind,
but looked down and saw them there, stars strewn
like charred jacks, thorned and dead amid the pears.

I wore love like a treasured broach, my children
the sapphires and the pearls, worn close to my throat.
Then I saw your eyes, no, I mean the sky, but blue
and impossible. In Texas winter is a drifter that comes
to sleep in the barn. He leaves things behind, a crease
in the hay, a sprinkle of ash, stars burnt like bones.

I remembered my blessings, these boots, this ridge
where someone thought to plant some pears.
I thought of all the days gone past, a tree in bloom,
a song, a cry. There are stars hiding in the bright sky,
glittering stones set fast in gold. I lack for nothing
save a voice clear and true enough for this quiet joy.


"for what is given" is either prayer or odd explanation, perhaps both. The voice of the speaker is compelling and rich (“charred jacks, thorned and dead amid the pears”) even while it is conversational, interrupting itself to tell us what it meant to say. How to resist a poem that says “Then I saw your eyes, no, I mean the sky, but blue and impossible.” --Deborah Bogen

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