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Scott Cairns

Anaphora on Orcas Island / Nepsis

Anaphora on Orcas Island

—after Stevens

To behold the sublime, one must first
accede that one is also held, beheld,
beholden to. One must first agree.
To behold the sublime, one must first
forgo all hope of standing clear,
of standing far apart. One must see.
To behold the sublime, one must first
suspend long habits of self-
sufficiency, accept the pulse. The sky
held close to all that lay in view,
with mist and wood smoke mingling
low amid the deep expanse of green,
availed a glimpse, if momentary,
of what one's hunger must occasion
shy of satisfaction, even so.


Notice how the piercing winter chill fails quite
to enter the heart's bright furnace.
O brilliant, bright furnace!
Notice how the yammering electorate also
fails to obtain against the heart's quiet
any ground, any likely purchase
to nudge the weight of long acquired stillness.
O pulsing stillness!
What heat, what light, what pulse is this?
What recourse has the weary pilgrim save
to stand before that endless beckoning,
to draw his every scattered member into one,
to draw, and so be drawn?
What shall he say?
O Braided Being, include in your deep enormity
this, these, every, all.

—Scott Cairns

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