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Spring/Summer 1996, Volume 13.2

Poetry

 

Kim Bridgford


Kim Bridgford (M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, Ph.D., University of Illinois) is an associate professor of English at Fairfield University. Her work has appeared in
The Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and others.  See more of her work published in Weber Studies at:  Vol. 12.1 (poetry)  and  Vol. 20.2 (fiction).

 

When the Circus Comes to Town

We all know Cordelia was right;
Words don't have to twirl
Like snow riding its dazzle down.
But it doesn't mean
We don't want them that way—
Armfuls of flower heaps,
Coins from a Midas mouth.
Pride has nothing to do with it:
We all like our throat scratched,
A piece of silk between finger and thumb.

And especially with love—how much? how much?
As if the demonstration means
Hauling the well-deep drops
Along the clatter of the heart:
Ribbons fluttering from a bedpost,
Thick cream over raspberries,
Cheese and crackers and wine,
The sea, the sea.

And is that all?
More, more, more, cries the child,
The Lear in us, as the circus
Sets up its flounces. Begin.
And then the headiness of surfeit
As the woman drags her spangled fear
Along the swaying rope,
The lion roars his golden mouth
In that wide circle of love.

 

Scatterings

Peonies sag
In their sacks of scent.

It's almost dusk, 
The air a flower-color—

Who can tell which one
With darkness at the heels?

The girls reads
Until her mind gets dizzy

And falls down.
She closes her eyes,

But she can't help seeing
The sword of betrayal,

Love's distant hands
Crammed in a muff.

The boy plays solitaire
In his blue bedroom,

Throwing face upon face,
Jack to queen in a slick slap.

The night-noises hold
Their breath.

In the kitchen the mother
Mashes potatoes into soft cream.

She is happy when this happens.
On the TV a map of the earth

Cracks, the pieces flying.
The father is not surprised.

When dinner's ready,
Prayer makes

Everyone bend over. Done.
They pull their hands apart

Like twigs
At the mercy of the world.

 

What the Past Comes Down To

Once you realize that the past
Is nothing but a trail of dust—
A mummy dissolving
After centuries of fixed repose,
A rare book crumbling—
It's easier to proceed.
Then those moments
That well out of the past
And hurt the present—
The if-onlys, the what-if-I-coulds—
Disintegrate in puffs of ash.
And the times you want to save,
They're dust too, of course,
But slightly iridescent,
Like the spaces fireflies enter
And then leave.
It's the light that counts, after all,
And, while nothing ever lasts,
An aura remains, the kind we imagine
Hangs around the spirit,
An outline of our best self:
Stars are one way to say it,
Sunlight another.

 

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