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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 26, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I began writing this poem with nothing in mind but a simple idea: I would speak, after some months of silence, directly to the particularly tumultuous year that had passed, as though it were some strange wild thing that had paid its visit. I soon found that the poem had grabbed me by the collar and that the year, with all of its deliveries and indifferences, was speaking brutally—and truthfully—to me.”
—Joseph Fasano

Elegy for a Year

Before I watched you die, I watched the dying
falter, their hearts curled and purring in them

like kitfoxes asleep
beside their shadows, their eyes pawed out by the trouble

of their hunger. I was
humbling, Lord, like the taxidermist’s

apprentice. I said
yes, and amen, like the monk brushing

the barley from the vealcalf’s
withers, the heft of it

as it leans against his cilice. 
Winter, I have watched the lost

lie down among their bodies, clarified
as the birdsong

they have hymned of.
I have heard the earth sing longer than the song.

Come, I said, come
summer, come

after: you were the bull-elk in the moonlight
of my threshold, knocking off the mosses from its antlers

before it backed away, bewildered, into foliage.
You were thin-ribbed, were hawk-

scarred, were few. 
Yes, amen, before I heard you giving up

your singing, you were something stumbling hunted
to my open door; you were thinning with the milkweed

of the river. Winter, Wintering, listen: I think of you
long gone now

through the valley, scissoring
your ancient way

through the pitch pines. Not waiting, but the great elk
in the dark door. Not ravens

where they stay, awhile, in furor,
but the lost thing backing out

among the saplings, dancing off the madness
of its antlers. Not stone, not cold

stone, but fire. The wild thing, musk-blooded, at my open
door, wakening and wakening and

wakening, migrations
in the blindness of its wild eyes,

saying Look at them, look at how they have to. 
Do something with the wildness that confounds you.

Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Fasano. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Fasano. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Joseph Fasano

Joseph Fasano

Joseph Fasano is the author of three collections of poems, Vincent (Cider Press Review 2015), Inheritance (Cider Press Review, 2014), and Fugue for Other Hands (Cider Press Review, 2013), winner of the Cider Press Review Book Award.

by this poet

poem

It’s true there were times when it was too much
and I slipped off in the first light or its last hour
and drove up through the crooked way of the valley

and swam out to those ruins on an island.
Blackbirds were the only music in the spruces,
and the stars, as they faded out, offered

poem

If tonight the moon should arrive like a lost guide
crossing the fields with a bitter lantern in her hand,

her irides blind, her dresses wild, lie down and listen to her
find you; lie down and listen to the body become

the promise of no other, the sleeper in the garden
in its own arms,

poem

You sit at a window and listen to your father
crossing the dark grasses of the fields

toward you, a moon soaking through his shoes as he shuffles the wind
aside, the night in his hands like an empty bridle.

How long have we been this way, you ask him.
It must be ages