Shield & Song


It has no mouth.
No eyes. Father, it has no body.
You tell me to make friends with it
But no one makes friends with the dark.
Dark has hands, daughter. Slow they shut
Tight the sky black from blue.
Study the night by sleeping it through. Go
South into yourself. Take breath. Repeat.


Music spills out the unguarded
Mouth, “yes yes” goes the song. The war dent
You suffered, Mind, make some heart beat it out,
Even mine might do, to the very edge,
To make the surface smooth. Like the ocean
When it was new and the wind waited slack in a pale bag
In the first dark before the sun knew it could rise. Then it rises.
Then water gleams. A bright shield breath breaks.

*Listen to Dan discuss his “Shields & Songs” series here.

Dan Beachy-Quick is the author of five collections of poetry and a volume of interwoven essays on Moby Dick entitled A Whaler’s Dictionary. His third book of poems, Mulberry (2006), was a finalist for the prestigious Los Angeles Times Book Award. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado where he teaches in the Colorado State University MFA program.