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By Scott Cairns

What I notice first within

          this rough scene fixed

in memory is the rare

          quality of its lightning, as if

those bolts were clipped

          from a comic book, pasted

on low cloud, or fashioned

          with cardboard, daubed

with gilt then hung overhead

          on wire and fine hooks.

What I hear most clearly

          within that thunder now

is its grief—a moan, a long

          lament echoing, an ache.

And the rain? Raucous enough,

          pounding, but oddly

musical, and, well,

          eager to entertain, solicitous.


No storm since has been framed

          with such matter-of-fact

artifice, nor to such comic

          effect. No, the thousand-plus

storms since then have turned

          increasingly artless,

arbitrary, bearing—every

          one of them—a numbing burst.


And today, from the west a gust

          and a filling pressure

pulsing in the throat—offering

          little or nothing to make light of.


Source: Poetry (April 2011)

Poet Bio

Scott Cairns was born in Tacoma, Washington. He earned a BA from Western Washington University, an MA from Hollins College, an MFA from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD from the University of Utah. Cairns has taught at numerous universities including University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and the University of Missouri. He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 2006.

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