I first came to Andrew Hudgins in the Pushcart Prize Awards, the annual anthology of the best writing from the small presses. The poem was called “Postcards from a Hanging.” Shortly thereafter, I found Saints and Strangers, a wonderful collection that I have read year after year. Last summer, the poem below struck me. It’s so precise, so delicate, so smartly delivered. As with many of Hudgins’ poems it plays off of something historical or, in this case, biblical, the bible verse: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matt. 6:28-29). Also, like many of Hudgins’ poems, it reveals what is usually unseen and it ends with a striking image.
You have considered the lilies of the field,
how they do nothing for their splendor
and how they shine like moons upon their stalks,
arrayed in the exacting glory of the sun.
Consider now the mosses of the cypress swamp,
the great droop-headed grasses of the salt marsh,
and how, beneath the shadowed pastels
of the wetland flowers, there lingers a hint of violet
that fades in full light, whitens and dies
like a sin you are especially partial to
because it makes your life more intricate
and somehow better. Consider, too, the various lights
that outlast the last, hard leg of the pilgrimage
through leaf and branch, moss, mist, haze, and gnats,
are rare and changed, softened with impurities,
and should be blessed each with a proper name.
In the sun-bright fields it’s just called light
because it’s known there only in its scouring brightness.
Consider the dream I dreamt last night of Christ
glowing in holiness, as metal in a forge
will pulsate red, yellow and finally white
before it starts to lose its this-world shape.
He asked me to bathe his burning face
and soften the radiance that was killing him,
and I led him to the marsh and immersed him,
almost vanishing in the steam that rose around us.
Consider: from the reeds close at hand the marsh hen lunges,
a blast of stubby wings and dangling legs,
so awkward she soon relinquishes the sky,
flashing the patch of white beneath her tail
as she bolts between tassels of marsh grass.
And down the random corridor of water oaks
beckons the hollow, two-note fluting of an owl.