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Easter Dawn, Mt. Palomar, California

By Peter Gorham

On the edge of a stand of small sequoias

blue and shaggy still with darkness in

this last hour that the stars can still speak

in their high white voices, I wait while

shadows fall like palm leaves from the eastern sky.

In this hour the sound of sirens will rake the cities

fixing the newly dead into their final faces,

and a tomb will click shut like a padlock.

In this hour the tin cities stand grey and naked

under the last stars, while the rivers of lead

falter and pool in the sleeping suburbs.

No one is waiting for the sky

To possess them with a song of diamonds.

But here in these low mountains where the land

has begun to rise and glisten, someone has

unlocked the door of the east. Trees and grasses

simmer like teapots in the low fire of the air.

Springs spill like liquor from the earth. The hands

of the forests are full of aces, and the sky

is wide and strung with bright opal.

Once in this same light, two women came first

to someplace where death had spent the last of its iron coins.

They found the locks were broken. They found death

shot full of the arrows of God’s peace.

They ran like children until their feet became

more beautiful than any dawn!


Peter Gorham is currently a physics professor at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. He enjoys surfing and sailing in and around Oahu's beaches and ocean. He has shared a Breakthrough Prize in 2016 for the fundamental physics of neutrinos, and is a recipient of the Antarctic Service Medal. His first book of poetry, Water Language, was published in 2021 by Wipf and Stock and is available at Amazon and other online booksellers.


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