Poetry Issue 10

   Issue # 10: July-December 2008

Rosanna Warren


      A skipped page in the notebook, outlined in black,
      breaks the funeral diary, a lost place, a blank
      in the story of that old, that youthful love—

                "Master of the final day," chants the Koran,
                "Show us the Street called Straight,
                Show us the Street of the Blessed,
                Not those roads given in anger,
                Nor the paths of the lost..."

      To return to the porch at night, back from a walk,
      is to find the pot of impatiens hanging in an arc of light—
      small, commonplace blossoms almost swallowed by dark—

      and to sense how flimsy the joists, how dim your heart.
      How little you learn, riding out beyond the serotonin tides.
      Early morning, as the plane tilts, slathers a heat-haze film

      of talcum powder and buttermilk over the sea.
      Everlasting arrival, always taking your leave: to death we owe
      ourselves, and all our works, sang Horace

      and he ought to know, old master of the swift farewell.
      Another flight, another dawn, the sea smoldered jade.
      Departures bank from one season into the next,

      slicing through cirrus. We knew that, even young.
      But we always touch down to earth. The fire whistles,
      sap easing out of the birch log stammers beatitudes.

      A heart mislaid. The cold, hard buds
      are wedded to ornamental cherry twigs, while Flora
      lists on her pedestal and the wind whets its blade

      at each corner of the house and along the eaves.
      We build houses to grow up into and leave.
      Words I forget: turquoise, cyclamen, Beckmann, frieze.

      Forgotten, because loved. Another gap in the notebook, smudge
      of old pencil where description turns to smoke.
      What is the secret compact, that we shall not grieve?

      When I was a lute in your arms, my strings all broke.
      On harbor water this morning, an involuntary shudder
      like a dog twitching in sleep, dreaming of fleas.

      (Originally appeared in Raritan and used by permission of the author.)