The clouds break, the leaves break, and I can see,
The moon, skeletal white, but full of arms,
Embracing night’s dark coat, so tenderly
Lover-like. And in the alcove of my palm
Sits one plum heart to beat and beat and beat
The tired drum of world-weariness.
Where is some poem or sweet religion neat
Enough to beat the mortal fear in us?
Where Sinai’s Saturn crooks his fallen back,
A beam of milk-light traces autumn’s boughs
Beneath this hollow and oppressive black
Night canopy: a firmament knocked down,
A castle crumpled into stars who know
No master, no Creator’s laws, no name
That gives them name, save sky-gazers below.
And as for songs or poems—those picture frames
That capture ether-like emotion in
A row of broken rectangles, the way
Some summer evening’s careless children pin
A prisoned palm of fireflies—they say
Never word or world enough to get at
All of this expansive night, this night, this
Wide, autumnal, purgatory night, that
Globes its grip around the earth, limitless,
And has no ears to hear my whispers, called
With all the heart and fierce intensity
Of Pyramus’ longing—to a wall.
But there are nights that grow so tenderly
Lover-like, when through that void, that fissure
In the barricade, a light pierces me
From just beyond, and I watch the picture:
The clouds break, the leaves break, and I can see
The moon of your soft shoulder peeking through
The night of some old sweater. Oh what want!
And yet’s enough fulfillment in its naked hue
To persevere the hunger, give me haunt
At least another night beneath that mocking orb
That holds me rapt. It is another gloom,
Whose brightness I can never full absorb,
But neither will I ever touch the moon.
Born and raised in Vermont, BRENDAN DEMPSEY is finishing his last semester at the University of Vermont, where he has been studying Classics and Religion. His poetry has been published in the Barn Owl Poetry Extra and Vantage Point, and he is currently at work planning his magnum opus: an epic poem in Miltonic verse which will be published sometime in the next 30 years.