THIS MAGNITUDE | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Light-shimmering leaves branched
over the river -- it doesn't matter

what one does or doesn't do today --
you can be relieved of your duties,

there is nothing more significant
than this stillness, this fragile surface,

this stained-glass airiness that will --
once you turn away -- disappear into

where all the stories have retreated,
all the words and gestures exchanged

in all those moments you seemed
to be living in with your loved ones,

all those incidents you don't remember,
stored, you want to believe, just behind

your left shoulder, or else what was all
that spirit-work for, that labor, like trying

to carry water -- those bodies you embraced
in body and in mind, those hearts you held

in affection, all that attention you paid,
worth more than its weight -- yet this grace,

the view of this afternoon river devouring
the flaming leaves, your being, you think,

too slight a thing for this magnitude
  -- for now,
you can let go, for once, of your life.

Philip Terman

Philip Terman lives in the country outside of Grove City and teaches English at Clarion University.  His publications include Rabbis of the Air, recently published by Autumn House Press. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on independent radio, WYEP 91.3 FM.  


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