Read “Asylum Pastoral, or, Happiness” from the new poetry collection, A Night in the Country, by Laura Newbern (Poetry ’94)

Asylum Pastoral, or, Happiness

Here, across the big lawn, and over the dome, the gray in the sky

is expanding, gently and slowly outward, and all over Georgia today

it is going to rain.

And in the story last night

which I read to you in the tenderest voice I could muster

the peasants stood by a pond, with the filthy ducks and the slick lilies,

and rain, rain

was coming. The men in the story were bathing: two in the bathhouse,

one in the terrible pond; the one who would not tolerate

silence, complacency,

took to the pond and the oncoming rain. And when I asked you 

“was it too grim,”

I meant to be funny; I meant you are dear 

to me. And here, where so many suffered, and suffered alone, here 

to my left 

are a greenish awning, great corroding columns, two doves

diving in ivy, and spots of brass in the sky—dull drums

of brightness, promising

something. Health, love…

unbridled silence and stillness. One cannot hear

the past, or manage the future,

but sitting, back to a tree, watching the slight light shift on a 

bronzed cupola, feel

one moment’s happiness—last night I read 

to you—and in the turning breeze

the rain that is coming; the cool of the pond as it must have felt

to the man, Iván, who in his restlessness

and in his delaying the girl who would bring him kindness, and sleep, 

reminds me of you.

Like a candle, like happiness: 

so she moves through the pages. 

Laura Newbern on the web: