The Ancient Modern

Observances /  Joshua Alan Sturgill                            

I’m collecting for you, cariño, a library of wildflowers
because my love is written with a confident hand
but my affections follow the tide.  For half the day,

my emotion is bold enough to nearly be things:
confections and dawns and clocks of devotion.  But I
soon become distracted, and wonder until sunset

at huge, deep-pitted stones like scaly amphibians
revealed by the retreating sea.  Observance is slippery. 
You must hold under it, without grasping, one hand

carries it and one turns the pages.  I’ve selected histories
and gardening manuals and astrology charts, so you’ll know
where to find me when the Moon is full.  I travel

too frequently.  Dentro y fuera.  Last week, I was transported
by a helianthus unfolding its school-bus-yellow petals
two at a time.  Yesterday, I memorized eleven Spanish words 

for beloved.  As the ocean returns, I’m delightedly
lost in remembering the white linen of Ethiopia, shawls
draped and folded over the bodies of worshippers 

descending from churches of stone.  We must recover
how to read a world wrapped in poetry, mi corazón
its contours of devotion hiding what they reveal

All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2022 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All rights reserved.

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