Alex Colville, French Cross (1988)
Clouds darken into the foreground:
an absence not to be borne floods
my memory and my heart recalls
the buried ashes of Grand Pré.
The green land is empty of people,
stretched in shadow, spanning distance
beyond field and telegraph pole,
trees rising above the horizon.
A girl on horseback turns her head
to look again at the worn cross
radiating its metal arrows
like a clock with too many hands.
She wonders who made it, and why,
the cross mute on its stone base
stained rust with lichen, as her horse
trots beside the wire fencing.
How many times has she been here,
thought of stopping, then rode on,
her horse resigned to its journey,
indifferent as history?
I watch her leave the empty land
behind, approaching the present
with a backward glance, as I do,
but destined never to arrive
in the now I must inhabit,
suspended between moments,
inhabiting a grief both mine
and not mine, scanning the sky.
Paul Robichaud is a Canadian writer based in Connecticut. His poems and essays on modern poetry have appeared in print and online journals in North America and the UK, including The Hudson Review and Agenda. He is the author, most recently, of the non-fiction book Pan: The Great God's Modern Return (Reaktion, 2021), exploring the god's role in myth, art, and literature.
The Ekphrastic Review
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