Fourth Poem on Psalm 1 by Christopher Raley

IV

There, a shaft of light falls on a gnarled branch
cut down some time ago and left alone.
And, there, the river’s shallows gurgle round
a limb like a claw lifeless on the bed.

A tree stands pained from the loss of its hand
like a man on a corner in a world
of concrete and steel, bewildered by cars
that pass and people who speak without talking

because the things he called his life are gone
and unreachable. Though he grit his teeth
and strain to get them back, still they are gone.

And in the garden the snake rattle curses
for the Gardener comes to shape those He loves.
But the snake will not find one leaf fallen.

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