Iona

To resist the hollowing, difficult to bear,
that draws us across an expanse of sea or year
to meet, in winter, on a narrow stair,

a desolation folded in a cowl of wool
or winged lions at the edges of the air.
To allow some story from a hill or well,

or this sere call, through mottled glass, of gull,
the rise and fall of prayer, this full
and relentless curl and then recoil of swell.

To pull us past the brittle mainland’s edge
where the great beasts stand in gold and there
break open for us abbeys in the air.


Published in:
Kenyon Review Online (January 2011).