In this mountain sanctuary
I rent by the day,
and dream in by night
my senses are rooted
in a clockwork earth,
one thought for each breath,
one sight for each tick.

As the earth moves
so does this room.


(For William Stafford)

Standing on this bridge, we speak of the river's lesson,
how we must drown to learn it
or float apart with its current
past the splintered piers and gray-washed stone embankments of our city
till swept to brackish ocean edge
where, transformed with the sudden the wisdom of God,
we drift with constant memory
of when we did not know together.

We cannot swim upstream to the river's source,
miles from this bridge, to where the blow from the ax of Hephaestus
cracked a granite crag and water trickled down a crevice,
puddled on a ledge, ruptured rock, thundered down the precipice.
Call it nature, call it love:
that is how the unlearned lesson came to be.

(c) 2002 Philip Vassallo
Philip Vassallo

A New Jerseyan by way of The Bronx and of Maltese ancestry. Phil works as a corporate communication consultant, and is widely published as a poet, freelance journalist, essayist, and playwright.