Wally Swist

In Issue 5 on February 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm

The Pendulum

I watch the first juncos, those augurs
of winter, flock after late October snow

in their charcoal gray feathers,
as if they just emerged out of the ashes

of a hearth, their beaks the color of pale flame.
I think of us that first autumn—

how you laugh before you toss back your hair,
how we bask in the light

that emanates between us—
how deep we walk into and out of what

we think we want, how I try to find a way
to still the pendulum of our going

back and forth the same way again.
I walk the pine floors of this cabin in the woods

where I hear your voice, saying:
Why haven’t other people written about this?

This is where I weather the irony
of your being unable to accept what you told me

that you waited for all of your life.
This is where I learn to cease grieving.


Wally Swist is the author of seventeen books and chapbooks of poetry. His newest collection is Luminous Dream, the finalist for the 2010 FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize. A short biographical documentary film regarding his work, In Praise of the Earth, was released by award-winning filmmaker Elizabeth Wilda (WildArts, 2008). Also, he has published a scholarly monograph, The Friendship of Two New England Poets, Robert Frost and Robert Francis (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2009). A recording of a poem from his reading in the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, accompanied by jazz cellist Eugene Friesen, a member of Paul Winter Consort, is archived at

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