V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





An oasis can spring up in the actual
dark—consider the pineapple,

its hospitality and form, that faceless
baby crying welcome.  It isn’t much

that you are offered peace, but it’s enough
to keep and hold, even while parasites

practice the natural process of living.
Today the wind infects my consciousness

with sound: I stay away from radios,
block my ears with cotton.  Surely

there’s a shore across the ocean that adores
you, and a whistle blowing somewhere

down the street.  Make the sun turn
its head to evening, make Spanish moss

and maples rest, so everyone
can wander to the seaside, dig clams

or skip rocks, or generally be.
Be is the state I’m reaching for,

though in that I suppose I’m failing—
I am not and am not, though often

there is consequence.  In the garden
snails smooth across the stones

and you must be slow to follow them.
And provide hot cups of tea

for company, for visitors who depart
before they arrive.  I wonder about the mice

I hear and the courtesies that require the voice
of hunger nailing at the door.  Too rebuked

the heart.  So I’m stopping in the silk tent
I see in dreams—your face on every citizen,

your hands an invitation I accept.
But isn’t this the way that memory mourns?

One thing replaces another and so on
and so on until, like the layers of our skin

that shed themselves, your whole
updates again.  In the aperture of grief,

I take a picture of the past, when it didn’t help
to be reminded that textures and pomegranates

can mean the same thing, if the light is right,
the brain floating lovely in its preservation.  Forget

the first grade teacher’s name, the slogans carved
in desks.  Torsion is defined in part by force:

if one day the brave glance betrays you,
it’s process you can blame: the look

foretold and every pattern blanking out,
the faithless end of bruise and bite and hold.


© by Margot Schilpp


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