Five Poems

November 24, 2017

 

 

 

WHAT ARE YOU WEARING

 

I was in a mulberry that grew like a willow

thin limbs vinelike in a skirt of leaves

Through laddered shadows I saw our Chevrolet

and the simple geometry of parking in white lines

strawberries beyond

 

I wore a deck chair an adirondack

ribs upright broad arms and a failing spine

 

Night painted the hills and spread a black towel

around my shoulders then came the meteors

a necklace of now with then around the edges

 

I was wearing a hammock like the moon

crescent from weight and criss-crossed

with small birds sweeping back and forth

as if laying spider silk that could explain

how the argiope hung its net above the creek

 

I could have dressed in feathers

I could have even liked opera

 

 

 

HANDMADE EXPERIENCE

 

I am reading small books

that can be opened with one hand

and held as if cecropias

wings spread wide as pages

 

Amy makes them

 

They confirm my wish to live fully

in the intensity of silence

and within the beautifully accurate

language of Gray’s Anatomy

 

Earth is a bookmark birthmark

 

I hold a cobalt glazed bowl

full of babylonia spirata

from the Indian Ocean

resolving wishes into fulfillment  

 

A fog bank book moves downshore

cohesive  opaque  yet ghost made

 

 

a frenzy of cells  a magnificent glimpse

a sunset sewn in gold threads 

and I am still in love  all flowers are

Forget Me Nots

 

To protect such preciousness

colophons once bristled with curses

 

 

 

AQUAMARINE

 

Is any word more watery than this

 

I close my book  The ocean

is turning its pages faster than my own

a notebook with helpful tables of conversions

how many ounces in a mile

 

Above high tide a rain releases esters and alcohols

from lichens and live oaks

The future is lights and darks back to back

a continuing revelation with breathing inlets 

eyelets like wearing a seeing shirt

 

Even time was discovered to be water soluble

 

The swollen moon could shrink to a button

Rocks were ducks with their heads wing-hidden

Ducks were rocks with their oxides showing

 

The miraculous is so everyday it lasts

Even the wavering pages in my book meet the guidelines

for permanence

 

 

 

TURNING IN

 

It is what we call sleep

An account and description

 

For some hours we had forgotten 

distracted by phone calls and bombing

of distant villages  wondering

whether plaid was the true beginning

of abstraction

 

Then some faint reminder condenses

from a long hallway

the words you are reading seem a kite

let out on a long string

the page pumiced snowy with erasures

 

We slip from hard facts into florilegia 

a drift without noticing  

a parade and a horse startled 

that couldn’t help stepping backwards

onto the child on the curb  

a voice of someone not present but speaking

in your voice  vortices like smoke

like swirls from rowing

We are inside

 

We become the tradition that after a query

is a curl and a dot

a squiggle become quizzical through use

 

A tree of crows discussing at once

what comes after seven

 

 

 

ADJUSTMENTS

 

It was not promised  it was just land

 

and it was not another language

just the dictionary upside down

 

You get used to it

 

looking on the stove to read time

watching lop sided flowers

slide off bedspreads and spring

handing over its once fresh belongings

 

The glimpse is underappreciated   

as a source of knowledge

a gust through a sway of sumac

a promising shadow almost resolved

 

a tremor indicating an edge about to let go

the angle of repose in granular material

and a village meets the valley floor

in disarray and disaster

 

Death is a whisper till it shouts

 

 

 

Allan Peterson is the author of five books, most recently: Other Than They Seem, winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Prize from Tupelo Press; Precarious, 42 Miles Press 2014, a finalist for The Lascaux Prize; Fragile Acts, McSweeney's, a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards.  A visual artist as well as a poet, he divides his time between Florida and Oregon.

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