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About this Poem 

“My son Will (a painter) and I were on the ‘trail’ of Piero della Francesca: Perugia, Arezzo, Sansepolcro, and Monterchi. Very soon after we stepped from the chapel in Arrezzo, the experience described in the opening lines of the poem occurred. The poem explores the intersection of circumstances simultaneously in time and outside of time: the eye feels what it sees.”
James Brasfield

Early Afternoon, Having Just Left the Chapel of San Francesco

Radiant the delayed calmness,
—Do you feel it, I said. —Yes, you said,

of what only each can know,
kernel of radiance, the globo terrestre

of a water drop, not the passing adaptations
of canonical light, but seconds stilled—

our hearts beating through the moments—centuries
of the next tick of a watch relieved,

a world enough in time to imagine
Piero walk to work across cobblestones

toward a completion, his close attention
to sunlight passing through shadows

owned by the sharp angles of buildings,
sunrays warming what they touch. 
  
Piero, first a painter, is not a monk. 
He will make what welcomes light

a source of light: slow the day
he will add lucent black wings

to white feathers of the magpie
ever alight on a roof-edge.

I found a feather on a stone, feather I thought
from the angel’s wing, that arc of light

held aloft in descent, shared with us
and Constantine in his dream. 

I think of a white egret returning home near
the high creek, through unwavering

evening light, to sleep, sleep at Sansepolcro,
where we were headed in a rental car.
 

Copyright © 2014 by James Brasfield. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by James Brasfield. Used with permission of the author.

James Brasfield

James Brasfield

James Brasfield is the author of Infinite Altars (Louisiana State University Press, 2016). He teaches at Penn State University and lives in State College, Pennsylvania.

by this poet

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A cortege of clouds’
shifting planes 

reflected on a river,
the current’s weave deepens,

yet motionless
the dramatization of

a fern unfolding,
light illuminating the air

for a moment’s threshold,
when time, where we stand,

corresponds to the day
held firm

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         How time slowed when any thought     
     or apprehension of the next instant
             vanished (no obligation, then or later),

         how in that long moment, all at once,
     yet without surprise, how what was close
             was present in a sudden suspense,   

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Now cosmos in bloom and snow-in-summer
opening along the garden’s stone borders,

a moment toward a little good fortune,
water from the watering can,

to blossom, so natural, it seems, and still
the oldest blooms outside my door are flourishing

according to their seedtime. 
They

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