Of Late, Our Climate

by Scott Cairns
                                 —after Stevens


Behold, ephebe, the sun quakes sinking down
into the cool Pacific’s mute sublimity, and calls
to mind the golden peony now coloring
the brilliant bowl of the mind’s clear water.
Do you sense the water’s trembling?  Do you
swoon?  The theater has been bereft of late
of any save the tragic character.  Consolation
lay, for the moment, in the lovely Labrador
spinning in the sand, even if the beach
recedes, even if the cool Pacific daily swallows
precious ground.  Ephebe, the fray is yet approaching.
Do you suppose you are equipped to meet
that storm?  The night and all its long familiar
darkness gathers first behind you, then extends
to fill the vision’s scape and scope.  The scop
lays down his pen, and leans into the stillness
incrementally absorbing that distance
mistaken heretofore as firm impediment.




Scott Cairns is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Missouri and directs the low-residency MFA program at Seattle Pacific University. His most recent collections are Idiot Psalms (2014) and Slow Pilgrim (2015). His spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, was reprinted in 2016.