Rebecca Foust


In your dream of what never happened 
a boy turns away from your grief, 
and each month’s empty womb tolls a complin
to spring. Once you knew time 

as a starving, sumptuous waste 
that felt better than pomegranates 
ever could taste. Now, 	despair 
keen as a blade drawn again and again 

in water run over a stone, and so bright 
it might be the fierce start 	of joy. 
You see what can’t be seen by the young—
the light cast by your own midnight, 

mudflats licked to a gleam by the neap tide; 
Gawain hewn, 	but still
the tale’s hero, the rood bleeding out 
into bloom—and you learn to love 

the world as it is: gorgeous in its mortal wound.

Complin [KAWMP lin] means “Night Prayer,” the final church service of 
the day in the Christian tradition of canonical hours, which are prayed, or 
bells rung, at fixed times. In the poem you’ll hear the word “rood”--Old 
English for the true cross