is author of Elegy & Collapse
(Finishing Line Press, 2005) and was the recipient of an AWP Intro Journal Award, and the Academy of American Poets Catherine and Joan Byrne Poetry Prize.
Her poems have appeared in The Atlanta Review
, The Journal
, The Southern Poetry Review
and many other journals. She is currently an assistant professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Doha, Qatar.
—Back to Poetry Contents—
It’s said dogs don’t think
They’re human, they believe us
To be dogs. What odd dogs
We must seem. So clean
And clothed. What dog would
Want our upright
Concerns, the responsibility
Of thumbs, burden of metaphor?
They lunge into every morning, whirl
Around my feet, until I take them
To the park, where they gazelle
Through fescue, scramble over
Fallen trees, dart after quarry,
Real, and imagined. Sometimes I begrudge
Them. Sometimes I feel like a child with holes
In my pockets, every day losing
Some small stone of myself.
But on mornings like this—the dark
Branches ice-limned and glistening, a hawk
Swooping, the good sting
Of cold on my face—some of it
Comes back, and I feel poured from
The cage of my body, so light I might soar.
The old professor, thin
as a bone awl, stoic as a headstone, collects
ancient Chinese pottery.
Cizhous, Changsha, Sancai.
Song Dynasty tea bowls with hare’s fur,
tortoise shell, and partridge feather tenmoku glaze. He collects
Qingbai ewers, and water droppers molded
with chrysanthemum petals, the pale
blue glaze translucent as skin.
He keeps scholar’s objects on his desk, a celadon pulse
pillow, aubergine brush rest, an ivory cricket cage.
His bedroom is reserved
for earthenware: cocoon jars, ear cups, a Han era
censer with lion feet.
For hours, hunched and patient
as a snail, he loupes over
a Tang horse searching for evidence
of long burial: root marks, blooms
of manganese, red earth in the glaze’s subtle crazing.
Inside it’s quiet as an ossuary, outside a large orange
and white tom drags
a headless mouse under the porch.
When thunder comes, nothing can stop her
from pressing against the shuddering glass.
She slides open the door, rushes into
the yard. Lightning snaps, glaciating
everything white. Then the words come
tumbling, one over another, senseless glut
thick as oil draining from the ’65 Galaxie
in the garage, where her father lets tools clatter
and runs to his moon-skinned daughter.
She is spinning, and with each strike grows
translucent as a new root. He carries her into
the house. Tenderly, with the softest
cloth, he wipes her feet. She is laughing
now, and all around her, still, a halo of light.