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Winter 2008, Volume 24.2

Poetry

Linda SwanbergPhoto of Linda Swanberg.


Linda Swanberg received her MA from the University of Montana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The South Carolina Review, RE:AL, Carquinez Poetry Review, Owen Wister Review, The Cape Rock, The Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Texas Review, Pennsylvania English, Talking River, and CQ (California Quarterly). Linda lives in Missoula with her husband and two Collies.

 

Whale Breaching

You mastered such muscling in the womb,
shambling through dark depths—a home in twilight
you know well. Emerald dreams of freedom
brighten sleep—desire as ancient as the sea.

You wake slowly in your spectral corridor,
nose your way along with the assurance of an old she-tiger
circling in pampas grass, keenly award of night’s
dangerous coolness. Your ardor is for the taste of air—

the cool face of cloud epiphanies! Who else desires
such magnitude? From a new vantage point
you can decipher unknown voices, nestle close
to rare tree harmonics; listen to deep mountain tones

that make the stars—brilliant stars that live and die forever.
The sky is waiting! Water unwraps you carefully
as you begin to wheel and pivot, get your bearings. Unblinking,
you bolt through the last barrier to earth’s other kingdom.

 

"And All Manner of Thing Shall be Well"

—Julian of Norwich

Like a slow sea tide
Death
comes easing in—
water rising inch by inch.

You wriggle your toes
in the slushy sand—one foot.
Two feet.
Finally you surrender
to the entire sea.

So calm, so right, it seems,
you wonder
how you could have forgotten
the naturalness,
the warmth.

Now you make your way
to deeper water,
bask in coaxing plenitude.
You ride
an easy current,
reclaiming hallowed drifts of dream—
discover once again
how much
you love to swim.

 

The Body Knows How to Die

Wise Mountain, the difference between you and me
is the way you wear the sky. You touch your face
to the clouds like a reticent lover. You never sleep.

In Earth’s core,
molten lava rips through errant veins of rock,
dislodges whole eras of time in a second.

The Body knows how to die.

Gentle Mountain, I admire your natural impulse
to launch fledgling birds, the tenderness
with which you take them back.

You are a Mountain present to yourself.
Magnificent Mountain—Body of Earth—you are never far from me.
You dream like a Body ready to surrender.

In tremulous slumber, Earth dreams
new dreams, from which we now awaken.
We don’t remember the lingering world we lost.

 

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