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Poem: “Clearing” by Christopher Kondrich



Never have we worshipped
so many suns:

the morning sun
with its golden tassels,

the evening sun
with its mask of moon,

the sun on the sea
of undulating eyes

that refract the giant eye
watching from space.

Remember when the ocean
was forest.

We used the big razor
to reveal a clearing

of water that could worship
for us.

—Christopher Kondrich, FCRH ’04

About This Poem

I’m fascinated by the ways in which our conceptions of religion and the natural world converge and intersect. When I wrote “Clearing,” I was thinking about the common trope of the forest being a dark and ominous place, about the origins of this trope. Did it come about, as Robert Pogue Harrison discusses in Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, because the treetops obscured our view of the sky and, by association, God? And how does this relate to the modern practices of clearcutting and deforestation? These questions haunt me every day.

About the Author

Christopher Kondrich is the author of Valuing (University of Georgia Press, 2019), selected by Jericho Brown as a winner of the National Poetry Series and by Library Journal as a Best Poetry Book of 2019. After graduating from Fordham, he earned an MFA from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in English and literary arts from the University of Denver. He is an associate editor of 32 Poems magazine.


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