A Certain Joy

There is a certain joy
that depends on nothing.
One inhabits it.

It is there in the day
when you walk out,
whether chill and gray
or magnified by light,
and you inhale it.

Now it is in your blood,
and it fills you to the skin,
wraps a tightness around your heart.

It is in you, yes,
and equally in the world,
where it speaks from the darkest rose
in your neighbor’s garden,
or the bright metallic flash
of an absurdly tiny bird,
copper and green and red
in the glinting air.

The city streets are miraculous,
how they wind downhill through the trees;
the smell of smoke from the houses,
sweet nostalgia.
This in spite of everything.

If you met a stranger, his face obscured
in the hood of his night-black cowl,
you would say, “How the sun glints
on the beautiful curve of your blade.”

This poem first appeared in the journal Eclipse, vol. 14, Fall 2003.