Monday, April 30, 2007

Anniversary by Mary Stewart Hammond

Tonight they were bringing my brother up from the deep,
nothing so grand as the sea, merely
a quarry in Georgia, barely
a mile or two wide and flooded
to a depth of 200 feet, no bigger
in the scheme of things
than a soup spoon's bowl,
but it held him, it cradled him,
this place vast as death,
small as life. It reduced him
to a speck in the universe.
The size of him, after all,
was vast and small.
It filled the spoon; it disappeared.

published with author's permission

Monday, April 23, 2007

Portrait of Man with a Lily by Linda Bierds

After the miniature by Hans Holbein the Younger

Through the window, winter,
black oxen slumped in the pastures. Someone's whistle,
then the chatter of wagon wheels as, carriage
by carriage, some king or black-eyed queen
bobs through the countryside, outrunning the plague.

In the clouds the ice storms gather. Cold sun
tints the ground to the roan of peaches.
And in a silk tunic, Hans Holbein studies

immaculacy: the dust-free room, the lint-free silk,
his wrists and lye-washed hands. Then he strokes
to the back of a playing card-some king
or flat-eyed queen-a tinted ground.

And waits, powders an eggshell, a peach pit, a stone
from the gall of a black ox. Waits. Sits
at the window, where high on the hillsides

dusk's pandemic wash
darkens the carriages, the clouds that offer
their white petals to the darkening province
of space. Until only a clatter

remains--wagon wheels, ice--as he bends
to the card, outlines in miniature
a swatch of cloak. Then smaller still,
a placid, wide-cheeked, tentative face.
Then smaller still, a lily.

published with author's permission

Monday, April 16, 2007

Swans by Henri Cole

From above we must have looked like ordinary

tourists feeding winter swans, though it was

the grit of our father we flung hard

into the green water slapping against the pier,

where we stood soberly watching the ash float

or acquiesce and the swans, mooring themselves

against the little scrolls churned up out of the grave

by a motorboat throbbing in the distance.

What we had in common had been severed

from us. Like an umbrella in sand, I stood

rigidly apart - the wind flashing its needles

in air, the surf heavy, nebulous - remembering

a sunburned boy napping between hairy legs,

yellow jackets hovering over an empty basket.


published with author's permission

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Partial Clearance by John Koethe

Barely a week later
I'd returned to myself again.
But where a light perspective of particulars
Used to range under an accommodating blue sky
There were only numb mind tones, thoughts clenched like little fists,
And syllables struggling to release their sense to my imagination.
I tried to get out of myself
But it was like emerging into a maze:
The buildings across the street still looked the same,
But they seemed foreshortened,
Dense, and much closer than I'd ever realized,
As though I'd only seen them previously in a dream.
Why is it supposed to be so important to see things as they actually are?
The sense of life, of what life is like--isn't that
What we're always trying so desperately to say?
And whether we live in between them,
Mirror each other out of thin air, or exist only as reflections
Of everything that isn't ours, we all sense it,
And we want it to last forever.

published with author's permission

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Objet by Mary Kinzie

Dear child, why
is it still, along the pillow
this hand of yours half
open on the brightness
thrown by the lamp
anemone in
water the current
once passed through

In sleep you answer
that life catches
against the edge of
its own likeness
vein ever blue
in the body's
marble drift

posted with the author's permission