David Swerdlow
Weight and Demeanor

Nearly October and the sky draws near; an approachable moon
waxes humbly above the barley field. Our present, with its noiseless hinge,

swings like a gate through the luminous world.
Our hill is empty. Our maple is empty. What we know of justice, its weight

and demeanor, outlines the slope and the leaves, is partial to the edge of radiance
and shadow. Thus we remember a place in Croatia where summer was fixed

with a fabled moon over the stone shore where a ship returned, its bow silvered
with weather. Old women formed on the rocks, held small boxes

of a war that descended the hills and burned everything. Only the strawberry roots
came back quickly. “Your boat is beautiful,” they whispered, “Your boat is beautiful,”

they danced. The luminous world caresses our feet, is placed in our hands
in this form of wild fruit. We love

to taste the figs and the brandy under this empty and beautiful moon; we love
that our promises are stones, small and dazzling, along a lit road.

David Swerdlow’s work has appeared previously in The American Poetry Review, Poetry, West Branch, The Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is the author of two col