within sound of breakers rolling in from the Arabian Sea.
We'd meet by an abandoned radio tower where the track
ran out, our two cars a shock of hard-edged
color in the dun desert landscape. I'd wait
in the shade of a sandstone outcrop by a porcupine's sett
the air tainted with the animal's rank smell. One day,
my belly taut, I listened for the hum of his Rover;
blown sand pricked my skin, my fingers
sifting the loose talus, curved around
this stone echnoid and for a moment
delight erased the torque of waiting as I traced
the starfish etched on the weathered surface.
But the sun dimmed, the tower's shadow
grew and he never came. To counter pain and shame,
I held the fossil tight, a small recompense
for a loss I thought wouldlast forever.
Now, decades later, the ache is forgotten but the fossil's
weight still satisfies and the history it carries
is one I gave it. When I'm gone
the story will be lost, but perhaps a grandchild
will heft the stone's compact roundness and be pleased
and treasure it for her own reasons.
Like a horizon of far mountains,
a theme flows comely but irregular, one
range overlapping the next, each rank
fainter, bluing to a distant edge.
Another strand draws out, thin
as a Dutch landscape seen across
water, but for three windmills, the town
barely swells the brown ink line.
Then a motif, akin but not quite congruent,
braids like a river crossing
crossing a wide valley, the current
combing eel-grass in slow green waves.
It's not a round exactly, nothing as precise
or orderly, but dim and barely heard,
an echo plaits with strands of wind-hush
bird song, and the heart beat's thrum.
also the little architecture of the mouse's skull.
An ant enters the south portal,
steps into solemn cool where
the nave vaults to a coffered ceiling
and light slants through the socket
of a missing rose window.
Under the chancel's half-dome
the ant rears, feelers out
but probably only I imagine
this place is holy. The ant
turns, darts past the sinus,
under the fornix and out
to sun and live arched grasses.
IN LATE MARCH
We walked along the towpath arguing,
woodsbare, almost transparent,
across the river a diesel throbbed
pulling a half mile of gondolas; the roar filled
valleyerased sound and held until
the last car
thinning trail round the bend
and we were left empty. Then close by,
sparrow's cheep, peeper-calls from the berm.
had nothing to say, but we needed
to talk, wasn't that why we'd come? If we'd waited
we'd leaned into stillness and listened, not
words but to what existed between us,
formless, edgeless as air, if we'd been alert to twigs
on the cottonwoods, our feet crackling
towpath gravel, we might have noticed our hands
touched and today we'd be elsewhere.
An Inuit hunter
bows to the harpooned seal
and offers it
water from a bone spoon.
and rows of stone markers,
rise, a woman accepts a folded flag.
A man hands his young son the rifle as a buck
breaks from the
underbrush, later in the cabin
he pours the
boy his first shot of Jack Daniels.
A woman picks
the dried cord from her daughter's
navel, ties a tuft of the newborn's hair with red
sews them in a pouch for the child to wear.
I spill salt
and toss a pinch over my shoulder then pause
to note the rough grains, sun and geraniums in the
I don't bow
exactly, but that small act
moment as if I'd touched a live thing.
Ann Knox's two new chapbooks, Reading the Tao at Eighty and The Dark Edge, were recently published by Finishing Line Press and Pudding House Press, respectively. She also has two full-length collections: Stonecrop, winner of Washington Writers' Publishing House Prize and Staying Is Nowhere, winner of the SCOP/Writer's Center Prize. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, among them Poetry, Blue Line, The Green Mountains Review, Atlanta Review, and Alaska Quarterly. A collection of short stories, Late Summer Break, was published by Papier Mache Press. She received an MFA from Goddard-Warren Wilson and has taught workshops and writing seminars in many venues. For eighteen years she served as editor of the Antietam Review.