by Dina Hardy
It is the forty-first day of this rain.
Something answerable to the form
of the earth, a rounded glass of liquid
bowed out by steel-ribbed lines of longitude.
The water marks a point twenty-two feet
and counting above the mountaintops
from Thebes to the shadow of the New World.
A raven rests on carrion and floats
past the first day of the tenth month. The dove,
too delicate to feel the breath of death,
becomes a good measure of the level
of weather that should have ended yesterday.
Even the Morton Salt girl seeks shelter
beyond the thin shell of her umbrella.
Beyond the thin shell of her umbrella:
Oklahoma, North Dakota. The west
wouldn't have been settled without salt,
without a cure for meat—also cuts rust
from wagon wheels, pocket knives. Fire
follows months of dry, hot weather, destroys
six hundred blocks in Chicago. This is
the middle of a seven-year drought. Dust
bowls replace sugar bowls. Nothing's as sweet
as Exodus, the call from a burning bush
changes shepherd's rod to serpent: more smoke
and in the mirror, she counts the lines time
engraved. Across the Depression she walks
since umbrellas are cheaper than taxis.
Since umbrellas are cheaper than taxis,
cabbies fear they'll be out of business when
the seven trumpets of judgement are blown.
A third of the earth gone, mountains collapsed.
Taste the star of bitterness as the sun
is blighted. Here's the key to the furnace.
The four horsemen mean no harm. Say Yes
if they ask. She gathers her petticoats,
her small boots. She is unsure: should she walk
or run? Is the world a container or
does it repel? A glass of water sits
atop an umbrella. She is sweating
the end of the age and the age to come.
It is the forty-first day of this rain.
Stopping Alone Cross Country
by Christine Stewart
At a rest stop in the desert I walk among
the parked cars late at night, blanketed bodies
sleeping on the slope of the hood
with a rolled jacket for a pillow, as if home
in the familiar weight of their beds.
Some lie on their backs, uncovered, mouths open
to the darkness, hands holding on to nothing.
How is it that these finite, fragile bodies
hover here, safe and dreaming, lost?
They'll never know me, how long I looked at them,
envied them. They're expected, waited for, loved.
Someone has asked them to pull over
and sleep, leaving me with the endless
dilation of sand—no distance in which to grow small.
Even the curve of day, if it comes,
will bring no birds to sing the hours, or rain to use
as passage between the earth and sky.
If I could dream I'd see these sleepers rise
to circle me, their faces my horizon,
the boundary of their hands pressing me closed,
their voices saying, Here, you end here.
Souvenir: Modigliani Remembers Anna Akhmatova
by Jacqueline Kolosov
A winter's night, and the whole
icebound garden sparkles
and crackles. I wonder
if she thinks about me at all, though I know
there is no path back. Memory
whispers in my ear, and the horse chestnuts
lean close to listen.
Souvenir, souvenir, que me veux-tu?
on those end of summer afternoons,
we walked through these same gardens,
then sat close together,
my old, black umbrella between us
as the rain fell, and a mist
rose in the soft heat
so that the last flowers glowed.
My lips brushed her cheek.
"I want my work to fly."
She replied, "I admire you
because you are not like the others,
the cubists who reduce a human being
Our bodies were drenched, our minds
for the moment alike—and yet
seven years have passed since she last wrote
from Tsarskoye Selo
of the sharp cries of the migrating
cranes, sunset on dark firs,
and the yellow circle
her lamp cast on the blue writing paper
as she sat gazing
at the hoarfrost on the glass,
her thoughts of me
not as I am now,
but as I most desire to remember
myself, bathed in golden light:
noble, courteous, speaking
only of art.
In one of those blue letters
she spoke of me ãenclosed in a ring
of solitudeä: that lambent circle
I must still try to live within.
She lives there, too.
ãWhy we communicateä:
her words, spoken that first time
I slipped the thin chemise
from her shoulders. Souvenir,
souvenir, que me veux-tu?
Or later, coming home
to find a dozen roses arrayed
on the bed. When we met outside
her hotel, I asked, ãHow
did you get in? The studio door was locked.ä
And she smiled
in such an idle way
as to forever seal
her affinity with the Egyptian queens,
and said, ãI didnât.
I tossed the roses through the window
one by one.