Anthony Deaton

A Canticle With Reference to the Future

Do you believe, as I do,

that what is beautiful today is also ugly today,

and tomorrow won’t admit the difference?

Tomorrow will know only one condition at a time,

in any given place, on the face of any living

thing:  my child was a beautiful child.


Sitting in the stuffed green chair,

the one I loved before its cat-crawled legs

began to feather, the brocade torn to ornamental wisp,

I am content.  To watch a week’s snow

melt under warm pelting rain—that is fine.

The gutters soon will drip their load, fill the thawing streets


and lawn and coax redbuds into glitter.

Then it is late May.  The freshly dug garden:

spade after spade of mulch and earth and bone meal:

turn a bed and lie in it: the rows receive

what the labels say they receive:

faith in summer makes them other than they are.




“A Canticle With Reference to the Future” first appeared in American Literary Review, Fall 2003.