What Happens When We Don’t: A New Poem by Stephen D’Evelyn

What Happens When We Don’t

It can be hard to practise not doing,

not talking,

holding back,

holding open,

without holding your breath.

People steer their way past,

guided by their phones.

The shade and sun and big translucent oak

play and arc across sky, road, doorway.

I turn around.

The sky shines opalescent blue.

Born Berkeley, CA, USA
holds a BA in German Studies and Ancient and Medieval Culture at BRown University and a PhD in Medieval Latin literature from Cambridge
has held teaching and research positions at Harvard Divinity School, the University of Notre Dame, Providence College,and the University of Bristol
Now lives in Bristol, England with his wife and their three children
Employed as casework coordinator and equality rep (disability) for the University and College Union branch at the University of Bristol

Shifting Light: A Poem by Stephen D’Evelyn

SHIFTING LIGHT

Thin sunshine—- this lunchtime over.

Construction workers in fluorescent orange vests and hats

Bustle and flow. We come and go.

The underside of a piled cumulous cloud darkeens.

Desire is more than thwarted will. I stand back.

Above it all that arching slender alder tree

leans away from dark roots into the pure blue, translucent leaves

pale, surprisingly bright in shifting light .

Stephen D’Evelyn

-Born Berkeley, CA, USA
-holds a BA in German Studies and Ancient and Medieval Culture at Brown University and a PhD in Medieval Latin literature from Cambridge
-has held teaching and research positions at Harvard Divinity School, the University of Notre Dame, Providence College,and the University of Bristol
-he and his wife Rachel have three children and live in Bristol, England
-Employed as casework coordinator and equality rep (disability) for the University and College Union branch at the University of Bristol

Shifting Light: A New Poem by Stephen D’Evelyn

SHIFTING LIGHT

Thin sunshine, this lunchtime over.

Construction workers in fluorescent orange vests and hats

Bustle and flow. We come and go.

The underside of a piled cumulous cloud darkens.

Desire is more than thwarted will. I stand back.

Above it all, that arching slender alder tree

Leans away from dark roots into the pure blue — translucent leaves

Pale, surprisingly bright in shifting light.

Skyward, Radiant: a poem by Stephen D’Evelyn

Coming in out of the sunshine I feel jammed up.
Open the pores. Go back outdoors? Eyes ache from broken sleep.
I do go back outside, start again.

That big, still poplar leands slightly into the sunshine
Each small leaf articulated by shadow, the tree stands full and overflowing
At the edge of autumn. Let that tree grow in me

skyward, radiant, earthed, bending,
serene, bight, shadowed and shading,
open.

Why Write: A Poem by Stephen D’Evelyn

Why do we long to write?

For the overspilling joy of the natural world I heard in exotic and rustic Australian scenes of Les Murray,for the yearning and delight of the everyday I resee through Heaney, the passionate and mysterious images and the sheer pull of language, even translated, I tasted in Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill as Englished by Paul Muldoon, or for finding ways to reimagine yourself and your longings I found in Celan, or again for the magisterial sweep and tenderness of heaven andearth seen all at once by Hildegard of Bingen–for all that, poems arrive through images we imagine or compose from things seen and hoped or dreamed.

It’s a sharp blue autumn morning. When I close my aching eyes I relax. The trees in manifold green and gold and orange and crispy brown swirl on the other side of the road, river, field where a few sheep graze on a misty morning as my feet in my sandals get wet somewhere near the Severn.