J e f f   S t r e e b y

Cong Abbey

Autumn, another abbreviation to swear by: tenebrose aisles wandering among yews, pathways between swaying poplars out on a binge of color, clear water a few feet deep flowing imperceptibly over its bed of green stones.

On a day long ago an old monk sat right here hoping to catch a few trout for the common meal.

from the river
raucous sordes of mallards rising
light as flame

Every memory’s a ghost town—rituals abridged, dynasties truncated—a ruin still steeply gabled, every recollection open to the sky.

Darley’s Horse

Nosing after milk, the big colt batters her udder again. Accustomed to his frequent assaults, she merely grunts her soft complaint, drops her head, searches out spring grass. Among last year’s stalks, close to the root, her swift-winnowing lips discover new milletgrass, wild wheat. Her worn teeth clip and tear. Her foal suckles. Gouts of blue milk-foam trill from his eager lips.

In Saint Simeon’s ruined shrine,
a blackcap sings from the hermit’s seat.

At Aleppo, Sheikh Mirza receives the English Consul.