“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

Essay

for Eavan Boland

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A dead deer in the ditch.
It’s the founding architect
of every shadow I drag through town.
I pass the widow’s house—
her eternal windows reflect and reflect me.
When it gets waist deep, I mow her grass.
With one drop of oil this whole scene
would spin free of its oxidized threads.
But this is no nature poem, so I make it
my calling to ignore what came before
the greased bloom of its final leap.

Midwinter

for Tomas Tranströmer

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In this landscape of zeroes, the fix is in.
A fencepost seeks no apostles,
and no apostles seek it.
A horse blanket lies stiff over a branch.
I must look like a man
sitting on an overturned crate
about to drain the fluids from a star.
Each night, I pull at a bare wire in the wall.
Nothing happens, but then a bell rings
from an unspeakable distance
and everything I touch becomes angelrope
beckoning me to its source.

Scrapyard

for Marcus Jackson

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I am a frame bolt and a breaker bar away
from the future. I feel the moon breathing close,
a white envelope holding another hospital bill
I refuse to pay. My blood spun down
and made to stand separate from the world
beneath the debt of my name.

A Visitation

for Robert Bly

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Back from the dream
where my friend spoke
for the first time
in twenty years.

The language we shared
moments ago
is now sand blown
against the window.

The day passes through
the day, ocean rending
within its darkened paces.

I get up to feed the stove
and dress myself.

Wild turkeys
stagger along the ridge cap
of the metal barn roof.

Their sounds
are crooked and blue
as foxes’ teeth.

Appears in this issue
Michael McGriff is the author of Eternal Sentences (University of Arkansas Press, 2021) and Early Hour (Copper Canyon Press, 2017).

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