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Spring/Summer 2003, Volume 20.3

Poetry

 

Michael Zack


Michael Zack has had over a hundred poems published. His chapbook Morning Glory was published as a winner of the Anamnesis Press Poetry Prize. When he is not writing poetry, he works as a physician specializing in pulmonary medicine in Boston.

 

Padanaram

This road we pedal, camouflaged
with smoothness, slow
with ascent, is ourselves.

There are clues:
the too many bike lengths
between us, blue sky
sparring our own weather,
the nervous damp scurry of pipers.

I had hoped for salvation,
like these moored boats praying
to a same direction, confirming
each other's conclusion.

See how this kayaker's blade
rights through one wet arc,
positioning a readiness for the left.

I had felt that love should be that way,
accomplishing one task,
enabling a completion of the other.

We choose a rocky shore to sit on.
The kickstands fork into sand and fail.

A gull is struggling with a shellfish nearby.
It grabs the clam in its beak and
lofts skyward in the breeze.

At what is to it the most correct height
it drops its clutch onto the irreverent stones below,
and in that predation

my own shell shatters wide open
and raw, the grieving famished feed.

 

Associations

I don't want to know the names of constellations or warblers.
      I'm content in a shroud of night sky
   or forests wearing colors that go with red birds.

If needed, one could paste words next to pictures,
      the way your hands would narrate your anger,
   or sails and pills are told to be white.

Farmers, intent on shielding sheep, built stone walls
      but created wondrous sculpture,
         meticulously defining height and width,
   the way Giza defined triangle in burying its dead,
      or Navajo pronounce every vowel.

We live by such associations.

But now youth no longer inhabits this body.
It lives elsewhere in strangers
         that look like I once did.

Today a low tide kayak
         touched shallow rocks,
   kissing, scraping,
         the way we did.

Go ahead, your eyes had beckoned,
         open the music box.
And may your own hymns
            find a chapel.

The seabirds poise, one legged,
      humble and holy,
   drying arms outstretched,
      a cross, towards a sun
their flight never reaches.

I hear this prayer.

Perhaps it is time
         to let these devout apostles of waiting
tell us what belief is.

The ninth wave is the largest and
            the ninth ninth even larger, they observe.
This is the way their deaf sea signs its secrets.

 

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