V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




I’ve never aspired to early rising.  Dawn
shatters somewhere above patched roofs,
and in sleep I veer away, haughty, drawn

to an atmosphere lately blank and close,
high and low, liquid, velvet, pierced
by the gull’s cry like a white arrow, host

of sea smell, wave tips, mere reminder,
since waking I live, just tolerating, on plain
prairie, hemmed in by storm, and the sheer

note, like rope cast from sky, disdains
ocean in favor of grassland sparked
by sumac, cedar, cottonwood’s claim

to solitude and so few groves that dark
security’s rare for small prey.  I’m thinking
of the nest of wrens for weeks cloaked

in the holly bush my bedroom window
frames so I count red berries in winter
and hatchlings in spring, endowed

with pinfeathers and lipped beaks.  Enter
the hawk, scanning from on high as the osprey
sights fish underwater and dips in: compared

cross country, both soar, skim, strike, tossed
on wind sweep past chimneys or ships’ spars.
Then clasp up what they spotted, lost

from formerly safe shrub or vast choir
of sister fish, angelfish: all the same
except now one less, to be devoured,

and if my fenced yard passed for tame,
rosebush, maple, and hollyhock,
the threat of hawk to songbird shames

the shape of twigs woven fat as a clock,
bared it, pillaged, emptied the daily
pleasure of counting young fed, mocked

my morning hobby as the failed
pastime of a closet sentimentalist.
I shrink, siding against the sailing

aim of predators, resigning trust bested,
and morning tears at afternoon,
all hope of surviving in the open tested. 

© by Lisa Lewis


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