The Elements Draw Their Circle

Robert Parham


Bashed, the air trembles backwards towards what hit it,

thunder the witness, not the cause.  How in photos

we see lightning frozen, a pane shattered, the sun

leaking through.  How we are told it leaps up first

to meet itself in mid-air, not as we think, struck

because we amble, slow as a spoilt child, once too often.


Fired, the air explodes, walls shake, the dog’s paws

cover his muzzle, his eyes pinch closed.  He’s been here

before, closer than us, who are always inside, drapes drawn

as a sign of good sense.  TV and computer off,

I stare into the dark, aware it was never my place;

I learn from my dog, turn my vision inward.


What must it be like, at one’s most electric, to meet

oneself in ascent and descent at the same time?

I suspect there can be love greater than that, wisdom

irrelevant since this event must happen, the elements

drawing their circle inside the larger one, its charge

sizzling with what is possible, what must turn.


Robert Parham’s work has been published or is forthcoming by Southern Review, Texas Review, Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Connecticut Review, Northwest Review, South Carolina Review, Prairie Schooner, Apalachee Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Notre Dame Review, Southern Humanities Review, Atlanta Review, Weber Studies and Cimarron Review. His chapbook, What Part Motion Plays in the Equation of Love, won the Palanquin Competition.  He was a finalist for the Richard Snyder and the Marianne Moore poetry competitions.  He edits the Southern Poetry Review and is Dean of the Katherine Reese Pamplin College of Arts and Sciences at Augusta State University.