Nicholas Samaras won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award with his first book, Hands of the Saddlemaker. He currently lives in
West Nyack, New York with his family where he is completing a new book of poetry and a memoir.
METAPHOR AS IDENTITY
Run the length of my mind. At the end, you will come
to a monastery above a darkened beach,
the sound of waves on the sand,
a lone figure in the moonlight.
I am the shade of wet sand.
I am the exact space between bell-tolls to chapel.
I am the country that names the unknown soldier.
I am the soul of an ebony man in a star-filled night.
You are the earth on top of me.
I am a dark light ascending the mountain.
I am a cry far from Foxton.
I am a half-ascetic who cannot pray. I am
a prayer in slow making.
I am a warm pocket of earth,
shaped like this and living for a while.
I am the memory of my good mentor who said,
“I only borrowed this dust.”
I am the dusty path out of sight.
Under the afternoon sun, the clock tower bongs out a Byzantine midnight.
You disembark for the green ascent back through the centuries.
Your climb back begins as an old man growing younger.
The path bends upward in the way you remember.
Will you stop for rest, in the hours wrung?
Will you stop to unsweat the baggage you’ve carried?
Over the dust, you wade through the green centuries.
Arrived at a home again, you disembark
from your satchel to attend Vespers.
You sleep in darkness, and rise in darkness.
The now-far clock tower resonates satisfaction.
Over time, your body will become used to these hours.
Over time, your body will become these hours.
You hold to silence and chanting filters up to stars.
You hold to silence and let the years come.
Ask the night to let you not be lonely.
Ask the night to heal your heart.
Step out into the black eve of winter
and breathe in the clarity.
Let the scarcely-seen stars glimmer
their small mercies on you, the air
only cold enough to brace you.
Only the trees and your breathing attend you.
Only the pale-blue cloudline
may judge you.
And to stay up now, to push a little
past weariness is a good thing.
And to stay up now is to witness
your own life in its still hour.
To feel alone is to feel the absence
of yourself with others.
Ask the night for yourself, for others
beyond yourself, to receive
a blessing of silence, face to the open sky.
Even the night hours alone are a dialogue.