John Casteen Click to

John Casteen’s books, Free Union (2009) and For the Mountain Laurel (2011), are part of the VQR Poetry Series from the University of Georgia Press. His poems have appeared recently in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, and other magazines, and in Best American Poetry. He teaches at Sweet Briar College.

John Casteen– Passage
Bollard & bulkhead, cormorant & clew, spindrift, scene:
the pitchkettle Tropic of Capricorn.  The city.  The sea
in its unsurprising windrows; the glyph of the break-

water.  Each wintry glimpse, scene briny as a mollusk.
Clear-lined and empty of color.  At home & in the mind
I play a quick “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” consider

a quick whiskey before breakfast.  The mountain
dandles Cape Town on its bended knee and smolders.
So much of this work we do begins and ends

in silence.  I would rather see the sound of the fingers
of cloud that feel their way over the sandstone rim;
they say a sign that rings and resonates like song,

like a daily collect in the cathedral of the sky.
The slim celebrant in light gray, the mist-curtain:
am nothing.  You are nothing.  Let’s keep this just between us.