Patricia Clark, "After Lightning"




I am the bright sliver of wood

thrown like a spear into the ground.

Where white-tails step past


there are signs of their passing.


And also the red-tailed hawk on the woodpile,


the rustlings of prey: chipmunk, whiskered mouse.


I am the creek that meanders

behind these houses. Watershed hidden in ravines,

unnamed. Like secret tears,

I soften, flow. Movement


instead of stasis. A sparkling

silver like a necklace thrown off.


I am the chorus of peepers

surprising ears after winter’s hard

silence. When the oaks


join in with their rustling,

a layer of sound goes on top,

varnish, a clear coat. I am


the mysterious offering of a hand

to the one who turned away.

And the delphinium bloom with a black eye.


The heart of a sister—

a sister’s hardened heart.


What word would I say?



Patricia Clark is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Sunday Rising (Michigan State University Press). In addition, her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, such as Atlantic MonthlyPoetrySlateNew England ReviewNorth American ReviewPennsylvania ReviewBlack Warrior Review, and Seattle Review.