Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!


1.  I start to dream I am waking and wake with a start from the dream. Shadows gather in the attic, in the hallways, bedrooms, walls: their smell, like gas, is everywhere. I start to dream I am waking . . . 2. Night falls, then falls again as if drunk, as if slipping on ice . . . . Continue Reading »

Nine Numbers

On card after card he sees it. Along with a harsh identity photograph And his preposterous signature, A black line struggling into a name. The face is Irish, and his name. And even some of the wallet cards, The printer prayer to St. John Neumann, Bohemian bishop in . . . . Continue Reading »

The Organbuilders

The name of the one organbuilder was Craft, the other Dream, both descendants of an ur-figure. Creation. To graft metal to wood, not to look askance at fanatics in the guise of shepherds, and to listen with both delicacy and might was required. A duration. Death . . . . Continue Reading »

Instaurations: The New Science of Sunsets

It is harder to see what one seesthan anyone knowsbecause it is easier, far far easierthan on can suppose. That still point of the turning world—look! this light through the petal—where there are no shadowsand where it is never a problem never to have shadows,neither haunted by undaunted . . . . Continue Reading »

Leaf with Berry

At the last rock of the last ledge of the last climb, retreat blocked, he went to the edge to look over his days and ways. The earth lay below in colors. He watched it with desire, but it was spread out far far below, and was unobtainable. At his foot was a green thing—a leaf, slick and . . . . Continue Reading »

The Shadows

Easy to forget, how shadows are light’s creatures, out of dark, out of thinning dark come delicately, then sharply. Sun puts them there. True to the last frond, bole, blowing crest, bush’s perimeter, by light shaped from darkness their elegant black duplications silent, accurate. On the hot . . . . Continue Reading »

Finding the Diary

Settling the estate, the lawyer said. It seemed too grand a way of putting it— bills to be paid, a bank account to close, and finally her mother’s house to sell while her own, half-a-continent away, sat waiting for her with its lights on timers and neighbors dropping in to feed the fish. . . . . Continue Reading »


Here it comes again, after shimmering dead all winter, stretching, flexing, limbering, unleashing hordes of feather-cut leaves that look like dragon tongues, a silty river bronze, before they flatten to assume their summer-long, grass-emulating green. Gone in a few . . . . Continue Reading »

God’s Affable Principle of Cohesion

I Merely the look of it, buttercup at the edge of the “Lawn Falls” where the water seeps, sweeps down to the seaside is enough to carry the viewer in awe over the edge of reason to a logic beyond the modest mundane: the rocks being pitted are jointed by torrents of balm-like uproar. Love’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Filter Tag Articles