The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Ann Knox
The domed biscuit incised with a star sits
on my window sill. I found it behind dunes
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 would last 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.
Consider also the little architecture of the mouse's skull.
— Aaron Anstett
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,
the woods bare, almost transparent,
and across the river a diesel throbbed
pulling a half mile of gondolas; the roar filled
the valley erased sound and held until the last car
drew a thinning trail round the bend
and we were left empty. Then close by,
a sparrow's cheep, peeper-calls from the berm.
We had nothing to say, but we needed
to talk, wasn't that why we'd come? If we'd waited
if we'd leaned into stillness and listened, not
to words but to what existed between us,
formless, edgeless as air, if we'd been alert to twigs
fattening on the cottonwoods, our feet crackling
the towpath gravel, we might have noticed our hands
almost touched and today we'd be elsewhere.
An Inuit hunter bows to the harpooned seal
and offers it water from a bone spoon.
Over greensward and rows of stone markers,
trumpet notes 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
thread and 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 window. oldH
I don't bow exactly, but that small act
quickens the moment as if I'd touched a live thing.
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