from an account by Augustine
Ambrose read silently, astonishing
those who watched and pressed around him spellbound,
never having heard of such a thing:
Romans didn't read except aloud.
And here was Ambrose who, without a sound,
swallowed the hidden words before a crowd
so thunderstruck you'd think the earth had stopped --
And twitching an instant at the poles, it had.
It leaned on its axis to read the constellations
printed in all the volumes of the sky
and shifted its shoulder, riffling the ocean's pages,
the way it does when it's stunned by something new,
and then resumed its spinning while the Romans
stood there and stared at silence, silent too.
[DEBORAH WARREN's poem "Baggage" was chosen by X. J. Kennedy
as last year's winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. Her poetry has
been published in The Paris Review, The New Criterion, The
Dark Horse, Atlanta Review, Sparrow, and many
other literary journals.]