Poems of the Week



The Body, Hiding

is still, but is still acting,
and the body is the actor, playing the role
of the hunted: also
there is breathing: also wanting
to be found. Patience
is the noun, the bending woman
who searches the woods for the body,
which is dying,
an aggressive kind of flowering.
And if it does die, will it cease
to hide? Still, it will be something: lying,
decaying, unfound,
without will, without comfort
or complaint, a negative,
an impersonation of a person, hiding,
is what the body, hiding, is.


In June

I can’t help but
think about the dead. Everywhere
their flowers burn bright. Roses

life the trellis, lie
about their thorns. The feather-like
lavender I can sweep

with my hand—that scent
wakes anyone. And the dead
go where? Oldest question.

Oldest answer: a shrug,
a blank look. Or the stories we’ve
heard and heard

and nodded off hearing. There’s a place.
There are angels, good
and bad, sure. And we all

walk toward it. Some of us fly. Fly!
I’d do that. I’d climb into the drawing
Leonardo made and be

the figure bent to gears
and levers and ropes that pull up wings
of tanned hide sewn

with raw silk. And fail. And never
get anywhere for years and years.
Because it isn’t simple, is it?

Talk to us anyway, the dead say,
our deep blues set
the garden adrift, our leafy fronds

bury the shade. I’d walk there
twice a day if I could: early morning,
evening. Because once you

made me lie down in a dream,
telling me it’s easy, it’s all
in the small of the back, subtle,

most delicate angle. And you life
like this, you said, showing me.
Was it flying? To be suddenly

that senseless? so nothing at all?
There’s a bird out there,
singing himself hoarse with it.


This Morning

At dawn I stared at the fog. Two young stags
Edged through the blackberries, onto the blue lawn.
The tree gate behind their high brown haunches

Didn’t move. But the grass below their hooves
Broke and turned dark, and white coils of clouds
Rolled from their low snorting noses. They stood

And then lilted and stepped and stood distant
Again, looking. Locking their tall new racks,
They were like shy lovers breaking the ice.

I could hear the muffled clicks as spring down
Sloughed from their horns. They pulled, stood on two legs,
Boxed in the mist. And my heart opened in parts.


all from The Massachusetts Review (48.1), Ed. Jules Chametzky

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