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“But For”




…………….millions of unvisited stars above us,

one forest fire flickering eleven miles away,

the pale glow of one last flashlight aimed


by hikers wending back to camp,

and a few low-lit lamps placed yards apart

here along the southern rim —


………………………………………..but for that,

this entire Grand Canyon vista would be wholly

invisible, as black tonight as a buzzard,


descending with the most impervious silence

upon our late-hour tentatives, our bat-winged

exceptions:  however…even so…and yet…still…





by Therese L. Broderick




Writer’s Statement — This poem was composed in response to prompt #90 on ReadWritePoem. The prompt was a night photograph of a street performer balancing an apparatus holding eight flames. The  photo reminded me of a scene from my August 2009 visit to the Grand Canyon.



About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

15 responses »

  1. Lovely. A breathtaking sense of place and nighttime.

  2. Great ending. “Impervious silence,” “late-hour tentatives” and “bat-winged exceptions” are all rich and unexpected turns of phrase.

  3. Hi Therese,

    Those pinpoints of light in a sea of black are all the more alluring and magical, aren’t they?

  4. Wow – you really lead the reader closer and closer and closer in until they’re nestled right alongside your heart. Beautiful.

  5. ‘Wending’ is now my favourite word for the week. In fact, I think I will wend to work this morning. :)

    Great poem, visually plump.

  6. Really lovely. I especially liked –
    as black tonight as a buzzard. Great image..

  7. Ending was the perfect way to take the poem from beautiful description to a wow moment that applies to everyone.

  8. I’ve been there. Been in a camper on BLM land wrapping in night as my eyes adjust and the black comes to life.

  9. Beautiful. An excellent description of the black and the flickering.

  10. This is exquisite. Two lines shy of a sonnet, it fits one long breath perfectly. And the way you play off the visible ordinary versus the invisible extraordinary is deft and apt. I love the hanging italicized ending, which fits the breathlessness of the unseen and thus unfinished, like the missing view of a wonder, or the rest of one’s life.

  11. I love “bat-winged exceptions” and the whole flow of the poem. It transported me to the canyon that night.

  12. This is quite beautiful. I love the way you connect these images at the end with the concept of our “exceptions.”

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