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The Jewel

There is this cave
In the air behind my body
That nobody is going to touch:
A cloister, a silence
Closing around a blossom of fire.
When I stand upright in the wind,
My bones turn to dark emeralds.

James Wright

Thank you Whiskey River for another diamond hard hit to the deeper regions. Only 7 lines. What efficiency.

Wright (1927-1980) is an American poet whose most famous book, The Branch Will Not Break was published in 1963. He is often positioned as a counterpoint to the New York school of poetry and the Beats who dominated much of the poetry scene during the 50’s and early 60’s. Through his interest in world poetry, Wright became closely linked with Robert Bly. Since his death in 1980 he has become increasingly influential as a poet.

Wright’s son Franz, a poet, also won the Pulitzer Prize. They are the only parent/child pair to have won in the same category.


It’s a wordless place where I spend most of my time these days. Language is a bridge that gives out without warning, a friend then a foe, the metal against your skin that is either too cold or too hot.

So I’m giving into my proclivities. Leaning on metaphor rather than exposition, on suggestion rather than description. The words of others feel like trail markers, and I’m so grateful when I see a stone stack to reassure me that this actually is a path, that others have come this way many times before. I am not lost yet.

Franz Wright is the son of poet James Wright (whose haunting poem To The Muse was posted here on June 5.) I read this and was reminded that death is not the only way nature tells you to be quiet. And this line served up a precise and deep incision: “your conflagration starved/to diamond.”


Death is nature’s way
of telling you to be quiet.

Of saying it’s time
to be weaned, your conflagration starved
to diamond.

I’ll give you something to cry about.

And what those treetops swaying
dimly in the wind spelled.

Franz Wright