Years from now he’ll remember the months he spent
trying to unlock a lock of her hair
and how, when she kissed him, he felt like a poem
being translated from one language into another.
, “Tamara,” from Rattle
(No. 43, Spring 2014)
I was wrapped in black
fur and white fur and
you undid me and then
you placed me in gold light
and then you crowned me,
while snow fell outside
the door in diagonal darts.
While a ten-inch snow
came down like stars
in small calcium fragments,
we were in our own bodies
“I am a traveler in the lone desert, it’s nothing special,
I can stand the wind
I can stand the thirst
And the sun…
I know in which caves the water is hidden
These worries are my friends
I’m always on familiar
terms with them and that
gives birth to the stories of my life”
Sometimes, at the far end of a pasture,
the burdock and buckwheat thick as the grass
along the hedgework, you could still find nests,
some fallen, some you had to climb to. They
were a kind of evidence, a kind of
science, sticks, straw, and brilliant bits of glass.
My mother had a hat like that, feathered
flawed—she’d bought it used. It was intricate
and jewelled, the feathers scuffed like a jay’s,
and so stiff you could’ve carried water.
The millinery species is over.
Those nests had nothing in them. Still, sometimes
I’d wait until the autumn light was gone,
the sky half eggshell, half a starling’s wing—
Stanley Plumly, from section 4 of “Against Starlings,” in The Paris Review (Winter 1985, No. 98)
And loneliness. I should say something of loneliness. The panic, the sweeping hysteria that comes not when you are without others, but when you are without yourself, adrift. I should describe the filthy province of mind, the blighted district inside, the place so crowded you cannot raise the lids of your eyes. Your shoulders are drawn and your head has fallen and your chest is bruised by the constant assault of your heart.
Hilary Thayer Hamann, from Anthropology of an American Girl
(Spiegel & Grau, 2010)