THREE POEMS BY MARTHA RONK
“Self-regard played across the walls of the room like shadows”
We become unpleasant to ourselves the moment we gain
from what we were and it happens regularly these days
as if a microscope were shifting objects in size,
as if it were a hot night and the moth fallen into the crevice of a book we
were moving across the sentence as the letters melt
under the influence of bark-like wings,
the alternating batter of light and shade.
To the left side of the small room, a shadow rises
from the halo of the lamp and shifts with the slight wind
as the edge of the flyleaf disappears on the other side.
One remembers things long forgotten and the world is flat.
With interstitial vacuities, a network of light.
From the moment it was first seen as a bird
It was destined to always be a bird
And that is the way with constellations
And although the night sky is shapeless
We can make out a few stars although we
Don’t look up the words anymore.
Cygnus or Swan or Roc was his favorite
Out by the sea you could see more clearly then.
One ought to be wary of one’s examples or fathers for that matter
Wearing the coat he was always wearing in the cold fog.
“So they say: ‘This is what happened’; but they do not say what the person was like to whom it happened.”
She says she has had a bad day and I see myself
knocking about with windows letting in strange light.
If I push up against frames from that earlier time
the windows would explain themselves.
What she couldn’t explain amounts to a theory of sorts,
the early crows piercing the fog like coughs,
the windows becoming vaguer by the moment.
One struggles toward glass,
the bits of unscraped paint,
leftover blues and grays thickening,
the wings of frantic birds.
One tries to get through, French doors somersaulted into,
the door as a way into it was about evening then.
There was a mirror as well but it only explains finger words
erased, breath fogging it over.
*all from Vertigo, Coffee House Press, 2007.