A Rest Stop near Rochester

Tom French

Buzzards are returning to the hard shoulder.       The strapped State is letting nature handlethe road kill we encounter heading south—       skunk, deer, raccoon, wild turkey, no badger.We read ‘A Blessing’, cast in resin, blessing all       whose absences are perfectly preservedby a caretaker making circles with a cloth,       moving from one picnic station to the next,a Zen master in overalls observing       his silence in this temple of departure.Before belting up to hit the road again,       in restrooms kept so clean it is as ifnobody ever stopped to pass water here,       we leave no trace and dry our hands with air.                                                     April 2016

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Tom  French

Tom French was born in Kilkenny in 1966 and raised in Tipperary. His first collection, Touching the Bones (2001), was awarded the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. The Fire Step appeared in 2009, Midnightstown in 2014, and The Way to Work in 2016. He lives with his family close to the coast of County Meath where he works in the local studies department of the County library service. He received the Dermot Healy Award in 2015 and the O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry in 2016. (Author photo by Eamon Little)

Tom French’s fifth book of poems, The Last Straw, reveals an ever quickening sense of what a poem might be — and do. With its capacity to move his readers and listeners and to register ordinary moments in a luminous glow, it’s no wonder his work attracts an ever growing host of admirers.

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