Winter 1996 • Vol. XVIII No. 1 Poetry |

Radiance

Always that forgiving para-noia. The Sisters of Charityof the Incarnate Word, underthreats of violence, taking down their art exhibit on sex and AIDS, the sculptured geni-talia, the angel fucking at the altar. Neither Lucifer, nor Gabriel. One of a lesserorder. In radiance, even so. All slow. Unhurried. No rush to revelation. Just the wind along your arm. Or flat-bottomed, noble clouds boating a clear, summer sky. Or the name of some placelocal and familiar. So it begins (doesn't it?). Godappearing to Saint Francis,Saint Ludmila, Saint Ansgar—as flocks of birds, a loaf of bread, a man with hounds and shotgun. God in the gar- bage, in the stares of children,the mouths of charlatans. Oak, shagbark hickory, beech. When what I need's the soul of a breath of wisdom I don'thave, sitting here at evening under the trees, empty rose- light lighter than any thought of it, caught in the tangled tracery of ordinary branches.

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Robert Dana (1929-2010) was awarded two National Endowment Fellowships (1985 and 1993), the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award for Poetry (1989) and a Pushcart Prize (1996). His books include Hello, Stranger: Beach Poems (Anhinga Press, 1996) and A Community of Writers: Paul Engle and the Iowa Writers' Workshop (University of Iowa Press, 1999), a gathering of memoirs of the first twenty-five years of America's most famous writing program.

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