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The Effulgent Heart

by Mark Kerstetter

Nature's cruel, Staros
-Colonel Tall to Captain Staros in The Thin Red Line
We see a vine choke a tree
and say, nature is cruel
yet how beautiful the vine
Beauty and cruelty twist
like red thorns on green vines
squeezing an effulgent heart
We say knowing no other
mode while seeing transfixed
until feet lose purchase
Seeing and saying cross don't
walk shimmer in the glare
of calm after sudden storms
Denial and vigilance on either
side I cross and recross the line
carry scars in quivering hands
Shaken like seeds on soil
that faithfully swallows
words clipped from tears
Torn from pain no glory
no romance to rout but pain
in sovereign silence
We come back as to a memory
kisses and pierces alternate
a column rising only so
Unanswered but calls to life
flowers drawn in blood
and fallen away like ice

Mark Kerstetter is the author of One Step: prayers and curses and The Mockingbird Sings blog. "The Effulgent Heart" addresses the new unstable world Mark entered around Christmas 2016, when his wife was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Now, almost two years out from her last treatment, they know to treasure every moment of life, beautiful, terrible, uncertain.