Six Vespers

by Amy Wright & William Wright

After a long time                         when the fall tells                           its lie
the water lowers                          the hills are steep                           with shadow
and the feet find                           uneven ground,                             rooted clots,
sharp passage,                             and a man is nothing                     but bone under
the shale                                        the rotten wood gone,                   his skull,
smooth after centuries,              the rictus of his smile                    beautiful,
the redness                                   his blood now washed                   by forces
of dawns springs                         of ice-melts summer-held             and flared
undulate and myriad,                 inassimilable                                   as memory,
the arteries                                   gone to the subatomic                    outwash
of a fallen body:                           Father                                                of a broken time,
mother of frostweed                   whose child has risen into             a terrible season,
into winter’s                                  transfixed hands,                            gnarled by clouds:
bluest storms                                gray fingers striking                       the elms like matches:
Tell me where to turn.                Northeast breach                            and frigid stars
tell me how to drench—             How does your arc                          singe
numb the heart,                           brand                                                 the body,
stoke the brain                             to blast                                              the pulse
from ember back                         to palpitant growth                         warmth
to flame                                         to grain and scar?                            sewn.

AMY WRIGHT is the author of Everything in the Universe (Iris Press 2016), Cracker Sonnets(Brick Road Poetry Press 2016), and five chapbooks. She is also Nonfiction Editor of Zone 3 Press, and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Austin Peay State University. Some of her work, which has appeared in Brevity, Kenyon Review, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among other journals, is online at

WILLIAM WRIGHT is author of nine collections of poetry: five full-length books, including Tree Heresies (Mercer University Press, 2015) and Night Field Anecdote (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011) and four chapbooks. William Wright is series editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, a multivolume series celebrating contemporary writing of the American South, published by Texas Review Press. He is coeditor with Daniel Cross Turner of Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry (University of South Carolina, 2016), as well as coeditor with Daniel Westover of two books focused on the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the first of which was recently released by Clemson University Press: The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins. Additionally, William Wright serves as assistant editor for Shenandoah and translates German poetry. Winner of the Porter Fleming Prize in Poetry, the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Prize, the Georgia Center for the Book Prize for the fifth volume of The Southern Poetry Anthology (listed as one of “twenty books all Georgians should read”), and the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry, Wright has recently published in The Kenyon Review, Oxford American, The Greensboro Review, The Antioch Review, Shenandoah, and Southern Poetry Review. He is married to the fiction writer Michelle Wright.