V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




The ridge, burnt black, too steep for trees,
drops away and we descend between canyon walls,

our plane a chip of flint in the white sky, the strip
a mown X still strewn with winter’s bones,

stall horn sounding as our wheels touch the grass.
Sailors fed a knotted rope through their hands

to judge speed, kept the compass in a wooden box,
suspicious of whatever spirit steered the collisions

of current and wind. At night they dreamed
of love and murder—skin hot and dry in sleep,

delirious as sea-water-drinkers. Of course
we are guided by forces we don’t understand—

choice plays no part. And what of trust?
At night they closed the lid, locked the trembling

needle in like an animal, like a dead thing,
as though that could possibly help.

© by Henrietta Goodman


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