Pages

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cords

George Brett, "Weekly Journal in Fibre Quipu," 1977

Ties that bind, that make a cat’s cradle,
twined around a same-named measure
of split logs or ripped to release a chute:
add a silent “h” for music, take the “h”
back for what strings and bends a bow,
for the place where panties and t-shirts
are pinned until dry, cheerful pennants
waving when the breeze kicks up. Raffia
plucked by a no-name girl and spun into
gold with Rumpelstiltskin’s help, just like
this poem—rough fiber twisted between
the fingers, a drop spinner magicked and
calling gold ore out from earth, a reverse
lightning snaking up the distaff. You and
I, we understand how to untie tongues
and words, letting meanings out to play.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Creature

Garry Tucker, USFWS, "Alligator
Snapping Turtle
," 2004

By the time I arrived, it was trundling down
steep banks through dewberry and rain lily
towards the river, leaving a belly-flattened,
matted tangle behind a carapace knobbled
by osteoderms tic-tac-toeing three rows, its
bony ridges dragging algae and nettles. We
hung back, not wanting to see whether the
monster could pick up speed to snap all our
fingers right off, half-hoping we could touch
it before it sunk into the bottom mud. In its
wake, a cardinal, as bright an incendiary red
as the snapper was dulled camo gray-green.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Shade

Not throwing it, but seated in it: somber,
sub-umber, hiding from the Texas sun in a
pool of deep shadow. Light olive skin via
my ancestors beyond the Pale, shunning
high noon, looking for the cool dark places—
karst caves, shady seeps where maidenhair
fern uncurls. Wander close and you might
think I was a ghost I hold so still, leaving you
to wonder if I was real or a trick of the light—
an invert sun dog, obscured, penumbral.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Supplication

Turkish prayer rug, 18th c., National Museum in Warsaw

“O Shaper of varicolored clay and cellulose, O Keeper / of same”
Scott Cairns, “Idiot Psalms

This is a help ticket, a message in a bottle, a parchment
scroll jammed into the Kotel by literally hired hands. O
Shaper, O Keeper, it begins, but it never does end with
anything other than an ellipsis. How could it, when our
need for assistance is infinite, unbounded? O Shaper, it
asks, strengthen the armature upon which you add what
will be reduced. O Keeper, it asks, unlock the storm cellar
and let us hide among booklets of gold leaf, jam jars full
of pigment, preserve us from the whirlwind. Protect us
that we might weave ourselves into every magic carpet,
encoding in warp and weft an invisible breath, a flight…

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hygrometer

Tavik Frantisek Simon, "Weather House," 1917-18

The humidity rises as the clouds lower themselves
onto the hills, kissing our eyelashes with dew. It’s
difficult to see much past arm’s length now, easier
to sit and wait. Fog, dampening sounds except for
my nervous chatter about folk art weather houses,
arguing with myself about which hair to use at the
heart of the hygrometer. You and I, within the low
thick clouds, have become invisible to one another,
hidden; but still hands will find hands, pass gifts. A
strand of fine hair to set tension on a hygrometer’s
balance beam; two figurines for a weather house;
a reassurance spelled in touch that the fog will lift.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Artifact

Michelle Erickson and Robert Hunter, "Swirls
and Whirls: English Agateware Technology."

Francis Place, Yorkshire, ca. 1680. Salt-glazed
stoneware. H. 3 1/2". Photo, David Ramsey.

Those objects made to be held and handled
grow brittle when kept under glass. What
point is preservation when there’s no way
to understand the heft of this cup, no rough
palm warmed, pressing into the curved belly
of a stoneware mug? Even the lustre's false.
If it hung on a wood peg near an open stove,
smoke would have left it sooty, ready to take
a greasy fingerprint or two. A dull finish, but
love and use leaves no artifact pristine; love
and use is our provenance, not the curator's.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wind

For Peter

There was always a little wind at the top of
your hill—the highest point in the county, you
said, then walked with me to the bronze geo
marker that proved it—and the wind always
found something to play with. Down feathers
from your golden pheasants, fluffed in drifts
near a clump of flowering ginger; green bottle
gourds dangling on the trellis above the deck,
pendant, phallic, straight out of Marvell. I loved
to sit and drink jasmine tea with you, watch the
wind blow the steam off and cool us all down.
There were no words to the stories we shared.
We were the words, tousled by that sweet little
wind, daydreaming stories together and again,
as if we were the refrain from a song you loved,
fading, not fading, like "The Wind Blows Wild."