William Page



In the night with a hidden bird singing in the great leafed oak

that holds its acorns without understanding a single note

of the spreading universe of green, the fallow fox rises

from restless sleep to trot along on its slim legs under a floating moon.

The coyote shrieks to its mate as the darkening clouds gather, waiting

for the storm's voice to tell it nothing it doesn't already know.


What is it that stirs uncurling on the black ocean's floor,

and what movement above in the stark heavens wavers other 

than the wind that has no body or mind but moves like a human?

Much is hidden above and below, but here there are leaves

of grass, shrub, willow, and needles of pine that fall to ground

day after day and brown with time without speaking a word.




In our basement the furnace burned

the anthracite I shoveled into a hopper,

its worm gear grinding like a train.

My hair was black as the lumps of coal

and curly as gulping blades of the shaft

that chewed the freezing night into dawn.

I used long iron claws to lift the clinkers

of iridescent gray and violet.

Into a bucket I'd drop them and carry

them to a waiting row beside the driveway.

In the basement I'd watch Father,

the band saw's voice screaming

at the mounds piling on the bench.

The first day I strapped on my skates,

I cinched their jaws into my soles.

There was a silver key my father tied

to a shoelace I wore about my neck. 

When I stood up, wheels turned to wings,

and I flew to my knees, my temple

missing the workbench by inches.                       

Father took my arms to help me up.                        

The disappointed workbench said nothing.

The floor lay with its blank stare.

The furnace loomed, provider

of the fires of hell I'd heard the evangelist

scream about as he stoked our fears.

But a piece of coal cracked open and out

spurted a flame bluer than my father's eyes.

William Page's poetry has appeared in The Southern Review, The North American Review, Southwest Review, Nimrod, Wisconsin Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Kansas Quarterly, The Literary Review, Mississippi Review, Cimarron Review, The Chariton Review, Southern Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, Tar River Poetry, Ploughshares, The Pedestal, and in over a hundred and thirty other reviews, and in a number of anthologies.  His third collection of poems, Bodies Not Our Own, received a Walter R. Smith Distinguished Book Award.  He is Founding Editor of The Pinch and a retired professor of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Memphis.



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