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Winter 2007, Volume 23.2

Poetry

Shawn FawsonPhoto of Shawn Fawson.


Shawn Fawson is a current resident of Salt Lake City, Utah where she works as a hospice chaplain. She received her B.A. at the University of Utah in 1987. Her poems have most recently appeared in the following journals: The Bitter Oleander, MidWest Quarterly, Sou’wester, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Elixir, South Dakota Review, Briar Cliff Review, and Comstock Review. She is the 2005 James Wright Poetry Prize winner and the 2005 Frances Locke Poetry Award winner. She is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Vermont College.

 

Dangerous Mountain

for Wanda Gayle

When a woman says she cannot love
the mountain anymore, she is thinking
of descent. She is finished with the harm
done to herself. When a woman needs

to go beyond her body, to take it apart with
the slightest turn of head, the truth will take
shape despite itself. It will breathe a space
behind the handful of hair, sweetened as wood

smoke. Even the hawks circle, drawn
to glimmers below. Now she can see where
the rivers meet past the oxbow bend. The return
of damage comes to her like a web of looking

down. The off balance sets what has been
missing into motion. Whatever moves will
be wrong: whether wind, rock, or foot,
the angle of light breaks and leaves no trace.

 

Shine

Pray, Lord,
Pray to us,
We are near.
           
––Paul Celan, Tenebrae

It doesn’t matter
what prayers
we’ve answered,
their reliquary shine

on wood gathers
dust. Everything
we have
walked on

sits in mounds
of wood and nails,
another infinite
we abandon

to find joy.
Even entering
that oblique light,
we seal our lips

to its shine,
thinking we’re at
one with the
One, our hearts

grind as they mar
silence. But what
comes back
in a clerestory

of light through
the trees is
the voice, not
the words.

 

St. Augustine, to His Mother

(Book Nine)

I kneel to understand what keeps you
in this awkward place where my listening stalls.
The scrape of your overworked lungs
becomes what I have not done.

My ears search for what takes shape
in the dark
but there is nothing to hear
of the sorrows of this world’s beauty. Like snow,
there is no going back
to what the air has disclosed.

All it would take is the steady tick of the flicker
to pause the time, the livelier
dance steps in the hall to measure
a twofold sadness––the distance
between fingertips, a hair’s breadth,
yet unimaginably far in my mind.

How brief one moment is when the heart
stops finding meaning and faith is possible.

 

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