Poems of the Week

15 May

THREE POEMS BY MARTHA GREENWALD

Crosswalk

Black cases swing from their mittens.
Inside—purple velvet, and nestled
in the plush, the dismantled clarinets.

By the time the brothers reach home,
the cases will be furred with snow—
small animals with silver bones
ready for the weekend’s hibernation.

The Story of the Day

The birds will open your house with their wings,
Frail bones against the hinges, doorframes
Stunned, and as the eaves unweave, the roof leaves
Just a parasol of air. We try to predict routes,
Conjuring wind charts and weather maps—
How far could they fly from these October trees,
Or the countries in your closet, or the ceiling
Moons and planets orbiting only within
Your cupped palms? In this room, dark corners
Explained, the night light hovers on the wall
Like a cloud. You settle in my arms, your body
Beginning a mime of my breathing. You wish
For sky, shingles scattering, as we listen for
Feathers, insistent thrushes at the sill.

Cardigan

Sweater slung from both shoulders
of the chair, moth-eaten, seed pearls small as baby teeth

scattered down the placket—what the mother
wore, pacing ovals at the school bus stop, white cashmere

yoked at the neck, O hero’s cape . . .
All summer, despite an arctic office chill, her daughter

ignores it. When she swivels to retrieve
a fax, the sleeves flare out, mime goodbye, then fall slack.

*All from Other Prohibited Items, The Mississippi Poetry Review Series 2010

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