By D.S. Martin

Flourish, Fall 2011

How far does it stretch
the astral beam    celestial stream
shimmer-trickle of light
further descended than comprehended
straight from the highest height?
Consider    reduced to a speck in the eye
wheel within wheel    a galaxy spin
The film unwinds faster than our take-up reel
can take it in

Sing heavenly muse
a song to counter the spirit of the age
the rage & rush    the panic & push
the flitter    scamper    clamber cage
the grasp    after what won’t last
Sing of the thing that continues
the prolonged    the extended
a song from ancient days
of those whose strength is their length

Long before a white robe covers
northern nesting grounds    the arctic tern
yearns for endless summer    for the long flight
On unseen substance    she hovers
above the globe    chasing light
to the long day    of the antarctic south
She’ll obey her goal    pole to pole    swallow
on the wing    what comes to mouth
& follow her long migratory way

Let us honour the patient & insistent
Every great thinker is an imitator
who works & waits    unlike a thief
Every navigator    who considered the birds
of the air    learned from their flight
Every aviator    down the long line
from Wilbur & Orville Wright
shares the benefit of their persistent belief
such things were not absurd

The long    angled stem sticking from the apple
of the earth    helps us grapple to answer
the reasons for seasons
along the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer
& the longer meridians    measure
distance & daylight    & imaginatively
cut orange slices from a blue planet
but the time zone zig-zag    etching such a stone
required a committee to plan it

Praise belongs    to the long    lean giraffe
head in the trees    her long    black tongue
engulfs acacia leaves    Her drumbeat race
& rocking-horse rhythm    imitates
a slow motion grace    through savanna heat
Her hour-young calf    struggles to his feet
waits near for fear    for lions are quick
His mother’s leg    long & strong
will dispatch a lion with a single kick

The skip stone    too    shows grace in motion
its thrust & spin
when flung from your finger
for a moment    defies    what must be
We long for perpetual skip across that skin
despite our slight power to throw
but when that stone submits    to sink
think of the long descent
to deep    distant    depths    beyond sight

Fathom that stone at rest in an ocean
cradled in silty hollow    blanketed
by current shift    debris sift
beneath layer after layer    like snow
& the slow juggernaut of geological time
the constant pulse    pace
pull    push    of planet tide
& that stone’s eventual climb
to its place in a mountainside

When passing clouds cool    in their long
mountain ascent    & halo the moon
nimbostratus sacks bulge
seams drip    & stitches rip    Patient pine seeds
on the splash-splatter slope    need
root & shoot to strive    Soon (or not soon)
they’ll thrive    & grow stronger
since the slow    fight for light
makes full height    take longer

The Trans-Canada Highway    is worth
traversing    The long & winding road
its end    worth waiting for
like the long book    well worth the read
the fish on the hook    reward for an afternoon
& the song worth rehearsing
To sit still on stump    or for long
right on earth    is worth the sight
of that bird    or the deer in the clearing

In anticipation    of moose    elk or deer
we quietly draw near    & sing admiration
of long    strong antlers    patiently regrown
year after year    We sing honour
to the long enduring    a song reassuring
when little may last    Tortoise longevity
can span a century    or two    He never
moves fast    yet reaches his destination
where he suns on his stone

In desert silence    observe the cactus
the one who faces    shadeless blue
the voice of one crying    Send my roots rain
In verdant forest    see shadowed maple
the one in places    of blueless shade
sighing for open sky    leaves spread in vain
until new branches curve
toward open spaces    to renew
hope    so dreams won’t fade

When passing clouds    roll & shiver
a raindrop may trip aloft or drip
to runnel    stream & river    further
longer than simply to the sea    a process
of constant whirl    A progress
through corn consumed by a cow
or worm used to fish for fish for
a beggar or king    forming as sweat on his brow
wet grows dry    evaporated to the sky

When sailors cross the albatross    suspended
on long wings    they bless the sign
as though it brings    wind on its long flight
& so    there was sorrow in the mariner’s crossbow
The great white bird    glides with little loss
of energy    & will shine like a bright cross
as did the apparition    that three times
circled the pine mast    of Caspian’s ship
in the form of an albatross

Whatever has strength in its length    whatever
has patience to wait & persevere    celebrate
All that belong    such as those that aspire
to the true    the beautiful    & the good
should be raised in song    such as the redwood
that grows taller than anything on earth
towers with power    & lives long
Of the things that endure    & whose worth
is pure    O heavenly muse    sing

D.S. Martin is a Canadian poet whose writing has widely appeared in such places as Canadian Literature, Christianity & Literature, Dalhousie Review, Relief, Ruminate, and Spiritus. He has had two collections published: So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press), and his most recent, Poiema (Wipf & Stock), which received an award from The Word Guild. His website is:

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