L’Esprit terreuse


by Jack Hanson

The cardinal swooped and swerved by the hedgerow,
the dying worm dangling from its beak.
The redness cohered with the earthy pink.

If you saw them, you saw them together,
one tone in the general turbulence
of predation, the difference of death

for one, the cost of living for the other.
This is the calm forbearance of natural
grace, without all these human inquiries

into what cause, or pleas for mercy. Just
the moment between becoming caught up
and being swallowed. The nearest thing we

possess is the long, difficult training
of those sudden thoughts to be better
at the time they are needed, not later,

when they become only the source of gloom,
the target at which to fly, but always
fall short of reply, landing in the brush.

The ghostly perfection of the phrase you
wish you had uttered, of the thing you wish
you had said, prepares its nightly

feast, its flatware echoing down the steps
in the quiet house, behind the hedgerow,
on a night anticipating autumn.


Cover image by June West.

About the Author:

Jack Hanson is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. His work has appeared in the Hopkins Review, the PN ReviewThe Scofield, and elsewhere.