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Winter 2003, Volume 20.2

Poetry

 

Lois Marie HarrodPicture of Lois Marie Harrod.


Lois Marie Harrod has published six books of poetry, among them Spelling the World Backward (2000), This Is a Story You Already Know (l999), and Part of the Deeper Sea (l997). She received 1993 and l998 fellowships from the New Jersey Council of the Arts for her poetry.  Read other poetry by Lois Marie Harrod published in WeberVol. 13.3Vol. 15.2,  and Vol. 24.1. 

 

Never Mind

Year in which anxiety eclipsed depression
among the most common mental-health problems
in the United States: 1984

Harper's Index, November 2000.
Leave undone what has been finished
the snow that slipped the shingles
the hook that hung the morning sun
like a battered rag, the book
that hid your father's face

don't begin what you can finish

you know the end I mean….
His whispers, never small enough….
Leave undone what he has finished
the sky's spit polish, those black shoes
his long alphabet of cross and bread

don't even start, he said

no time to ask him now
if anything he's thinking….
His wen has disappeared,
the brown study of his iris. He can't lift a spoon.
Leave undone what he has finished

this much he can not tell….

 

Lovers Disembodied like Letters in an Alphabet

Lovers Disembodied like Letters in an Alphabet
Some days I think of my old boyfriends
slipping into their initials, Zebulun becoming Z,
as he might in those old-fashioned letters
we write so rarely now, Ned reduced to big N
and then small, Davidson becoming little dave
all passion muted to lower case, as e. e. cummings
showed us how, those torrid states without capitals.

So I have lost the memory of this time
or that we were together, where or why
we grazed each other's lips or hair, your name
diminishing with unremembered intimacy
so that I no longer imagine us feeling
each other up in an elevator while those around us
pretended not to watch, or perhaps saw everything.

Yet despite all this dismemberment,
the singer's body torn from his lyre,
isn't passion always interesting,
even when all that passes between us
is so many letters in a faded alphabet?
I still say love can still stop us
as it stops teachers when they see
a high school couple moving into each other,
lost in eyes. Halting, they say,
break it up, break it up, using the same words
for fights and kisses.

 

"Landscape laid open like an old newspaper"

James Wright, "Drone and Ostinato"

And so we've read this before, the goldenrods
gone gray, wooly as yesterday's lambs, I can't remember
what I said to you a year ago. Perhaps we were talking
of the neighbor's child who did not live. Weather

intervenes; the sun mutes the choke of news;
this is all that is left of the blue jay's rancor,
a few blue feathers. I have always thought such truths
deserve such deaths, the way they sass, they jeer,

but today, I allow their tricks and brash,
the way we do, reading day-old papers, knowing the outcome,
self-indulgent and prophetic, all those words

that someone spilt like ink, all that light and brass
over the next hill, an open hand, an old path, a lost glove
that the dog picks up in her mouth and then discards.

 

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