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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 8, 2018.
About this Poem 

“The Madonna del Parto, a fresco painted by Piero della Francesca, depicts the pregnant Virgin Mary—her blue gown split open suggestively. My late wife, the poet C. D. Wright, and I saw it together in Monterchi, Italy. Grieving her loss and spending time alone in wilderness areas, I had a vision of the green forest split open by a waterfall—the sound of the distant falls converted into fountains of color as sunlight reflected from wet spray.”
—Forrest Gander

Madonna del Parto

And then smelling it,
feeling it before
the sound even reaches
him, he kneels at
cliff’s edge and for the
first time, turns his
head toward the now
visible falls that
gush over a quarter-
mile of uplifted sheet-
granite across the valley
and he pauses,
lowering his eyes
for a moment, unable
to withstand the
tranquility—vast, unencumbered,
terrifying, and primal. That
naked river
enthroned upon
the massif altar,
bowed cypresses
congregating on both
sides of sun-gleaming rock, a rip
in the fabric of the ongoing
forest from which rises—
as he tries to stand, tottering, half-
paralyzed—a shifting
rainbow volatilized by
ceaseless explosion.

Copyright © 2018 by Forrest Gander. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 8, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Forrest Gander. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 8, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Forrest Gander

Forrest Gander

Forrest Gander is the author of several poetry collections, including Core Samples from the World (New Directions, 2011), which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. He currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
Could have been
otherwise and 
birdsong make us 
nauseous. And
gigantic roiling sunsets
give us vertigo. The
world of flowers is
for insects, not 
us. But tonic
is durance among.
poem

As if nothing were wrong egrets dip-feed in near shore channels

the human genome reveals chromosomes from parasites

annexed by our DNA long ago

mongrels to the core and tourists

with cameras take the front pews

the enemy blows himself up at Passover dinner

the enemy trembles in a

poem
                      for C


                                               Through my torso, the smooth
		
                           diffusion of aguas ardientes.  Another
	
            shot.  Dawn.  

				
                                               Fan whir covers distant