Fred Chappell


First point of light and then another and another: the stars
come out, bright dredge-net lifting from darkness
those many heroes we read the mind with.
This is the notion of latency I partly drew from books.

Suppose there is no present time, only the latent past now manifest.
A trout rising to the noon river surface reinstates the dawn,
whiff if it here where I tie on the Adams. The trout is silent;
the hour is a latent prayer I am afraid to say aloud.

The woman stands by the window, strikes a posture
that suddenly recalls to me a decade of mazy dreams.
The window is a latent religion. Thrust open,
what new powers, new immanence, pour in upon us.

Or consider my young friend fishing the river.
Now he has gone to be a soldier, has become
a latent garden of American Beauty roses
that only the enemy shrapnel can make scarlet.

Fred Chappell, Spring Garden: New and Selected Poems, Louisiana State
University Press, 1995.