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  • Gate and Beggar
  • Sydney Lea (bio)

And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful….

Acts 3

As for me, I can only be carried there by my own mind’s eye, which beholds the gate the apostle names,

all copper-sheathed and high as these pines where I live. The gate attracts the sun

as it dies on the column’s western side. Directly beneath, the lame man sits, but I keep my eyes

on the fading shine. I know little of what might be called divine, but this afternoon,

from where I stood I likewise watched the top of a mountain while the same old sun climbed bravely toward it,

as up the gate. It paused an instant only, then dropped – I watched and thought,

at least I knew Beauty. Am I no more than a sort of tourist, a paladin of imagination? [End Page 290]

The beggar will always be sprawled there – both in fact and in vision – in the sandal-stirred dust,

but I look away from impossible legs from unbeautiful hands, cracked cups for alms. I want to linger

away from all that, to savor the lovely, defined by what’s fleeting. Or so I say,

although on hearing a certain sound, teemed with sad beauty, a doleful keening, whippoorwills,

rare enough these days to be downright precious, I reminded myself that in years long gone,

among these hills that song was common. It was everywhere. And I scarcely noticed. [End Page 291]

Sydney Lea

Sydney Lea is poet laureate of Vermont. His eleven poetry collections include Young of the Year (Four Way, 2011) and Six Sundays toward a Seventh (Wipf and Stock, 2012). Forthcoming works include a book of critical essays, A Hundred Himalayas (University of Michigan Press, 2012) and the personal essay collection A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters and Wildlife (Skyhorse, 2013).



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pp. 290-291
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