Fall 1989, Volume 6.2
Poetry

ANNIE FINCH

The Woman on the Beach

As if they felt like fields singing unploughed
into her hands, she cliffs the rocking screams
that tool the phantoms on the scree with bright
unplanted waverings, and makes them right.
Her cliff would touch their hands if waves came crawl-
ing up and touched her back, if climbing
waves had toes to hold the aching shoreŃ
but she the shore, but she the shore, but she
the shore had fields that mouth this ocean on
and cringe at tides, and furrow clouds
to plant far out and harvest in, and rack
the fields with harvest sin and cloud
the ocean's face with seedlings scat-
tered green and dizzy like a bounded dream.
Can they untouch a cliff they haven't seen?

Goddess

The gravity of goddess is above
my eyes, when I look up like someone's child.
There is no spoken sentence. All she says
will die. It will be quiet when I go
out of the room and stop being a priestess.
She looks down. Her only death is unashamed,
undimming power like receding grain
that waves inside my heart in shocking beat-
ing silence, beating in the window light.
She will not go to make new presences,
but stays and goes. Her presence is the loss.
In the cold sky that waits each season out,
her body's ancient stars give restless calls
up to a throne that quivers in my heart
as fiercely in hate as in love
on which four thousand years of sorrow fed.
The gravity of goddess is above
my head, though never gone from history;
so many must have noticed, with this shock,
my patient looking up, her looking down.

Muse-Daughter

Back in my human sex, there is a hole
I'll speak of just to you, my loving page.
No one believes it's there except the trees
that bend over the abyss with purple roots
full of sugar. No one has touched me there.
The ferris wheels that arch back toward the sun,
the happy crowds that get society done,
and history, have never touched me there.
Rocks fell in the abyss, were broken there.
Seeds sprout there. No one will come by and see
until the tops of the high, current trees
grow level with the forest. Then he'll come.
He'll fall right in, but we'll get nothing done.
I'll call the maidens, "come along and see:
our muse is in the bottom, by that tree."
We'll tie him up and feed him sugared water,
and plan to keep him till we get a daughter.
My muse daughter, are you inside this page?
How will you come? I've never seen it done.
Not with ejaculations. We're alone.
Not with vague shudders, not even with grips
that call and call for come for an abyss,
and not in a hot-fountained movie-screen.
Come, daughter, who would know what I would mean,
how I would talk, if all the clouds that come
in rains and storms, each odd pistil and bulb,
each tree that totters for the stumbling seed
and flower that touches back the visiting bee
could talk, not just the pigeons who are walked
by pigeons on their backs, or foxes, cats,
and all the females who contain their acts,
but storms that come and cover all the towns
men made below, and them must have our thanks
for every drop of passion they've imposed.

Mother

My mother like the waves takes her life back
and back, and is not anything like I.
She gave her land to strangers, and she calls
them to her room, and they go back, like I.
Our ancestors are raging, in a line
from grave and loin and from the upper room,
and she and I are facing them, when soon
the night comes on them all (the women)Ńsoon
the night comes onto her, and I alone
hold evening back with graves and loin alone.
Their face is always as a mother, those
I know the best, but know that she's not them.
But yet my night has light to service them;
she glows along my night as richly hued
as fishes grow, when their dark fins are viewed
through their own caverns' phosphorescent waves,
kept from real darkness by the ocean's night.
In this clear ocean, she fills with my night,
and flutters here as quickly as the night
but thickly as white clapboard dawn, drawn slow
on doorways, stairs, rooms where flowers weigh
their orange colors in the heavy day.
She flutters on, so deeply that the night
takes back its lips from clouds that glow with dawn,
and turns them silent, night clouds of old white.
She flutters there and I reach for the sight.
Is she my bat? Am I her piece of fruit?
Is she my land? Would I settle down
to stoop and find the ocean, drowning, were she drowned?
Without me, she would stay here, I have found,
since gazes gray still reckoning this long
night's pattern, and is heedless in the spring.

Separate Spheres

I'll follow shadows down; I don't know where
it's raining gently, but it won't be there.
I'll go down in the dark alien ways
and hold my hands apart, and keep these days
from coming out to shadow down those ways.
Still, and still quiet: though I don't know where
the long grass tremors, though I'll keep you there,
I hope you will stay quiet while the webs
are built above our bodies, tie our heads,
and tap our words with langoured, sticky threads;
we will have gone there, though I don't know where
and we will stay there, though I took you there.