Jared Carter – Five Poems



So soft, even a fingernail
          might leave its mark
On this smooth surface – and so pale,
          as though the dark

Could not come near, and only light
           prevail within.
Come, lift the lamp once more, invite
          the spell – as when

The torch of Mithras, held aloft,
          revealed those scenes
The ancients knew. When stone was soft
          and light pristine.


A way to outmaneuver death –
          an aperture
Diaphanous, through which a breath
          of wind may stir

And sift the leaves – where even light
          cannot compare
With what it holds. That is more night
          than day, its flare

Of darkness showing, in that blaze,
Accomplished in the breaking waves,
          the endless sea.


All it takes is time. A blister
          develops on
Your palm, corpuscles minister,
          and it is gone

Within the week. The earth itself
And color springs from that deep shelf
          or barren waste

Come back to life. In this way each
          remembered face
Or wave approaching some far beach
          falls into place.


Flesh cannot know that what it holds
          is mind, but must
Forbear, each night, and seek the old
          ways, when pure dust

Itself remembers. Who would call
          such moments dreams
Must go more deeply into all
          that matter seems

But soon forgets: where memories
          of nothingness
That never were, and cannot be,
          cannot be less.


Finds shelter here – escapes the wind
          but cannot try
Its injured wing. No fear within
          those yellow eyes –

Instead, a wariness that sees
          beyond my cone
Of lantern light. Would rather be
          out there, alone,

Among the firs, where plumes of snow
          shake loose and fall
And make no sound. Where nothing shows
          but something calls.

Author’s Statement on Beauty

We are familiar with the comment of a certain Romantic poet about the equivalency of beauty and truth, even though that remark has long remained an enigma. In the twentieth century we encounter Wittgenstein’s equally enigmatic observation that “ethics and aesthetics are one and the same.”

Neither proposition can be proved, but both seem extremely persuasive when we find ourselves in the presence of something genuinely beautiful. We know it, and in a strange, ineffable way, it recognizes us in turn – perhaps with the same non-local action that an entangled particle, when measured, instantly correlates with its twin, regardless of the distance between them.

At such moments of encountered beauty, “in this basic falling away of thought,” according to the theologian Cameron Freeman, “the contradictions of metaphysical reason unravel in direct disclosure of mystery in the simple astonishment that there is a world at all.”

Yeats said that while one cannot know truth, one can embody it. If we cannot define beauty, perhaps on occasion we may point to its embodiment. The most beautiful architectural interior I have ever seen is in the Pazzi Chapel in the first cloister of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. Whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent.


Jared Carter’s sixth collection, Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems, was published in 2014 by the University of Nebraska Press. He lives in Indiana. More at: www.the-growler.com.