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Fall 2004, Volume 22.1


Alicia Beale

Photo of Alicia Beale.

Alicia Beale received an MFA from the University of Eastern Washington. Her poems have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Prairie Schooner, New Delta Review, Evansville Review, and Poet Lore. She recently relocated from Oregon to Phoenix, Arizona, where she works as an interaction designer.


This is your life: cell mosaics and hormones,
defined and redefined by random
observations. This is my love:

ten minutes in the morning, sixty
minutes in the evening. I'm your
apple shavings under a microscope.

You're my violin strings snapping,
black-pegs turning too far at the neck-end,
night rain overflowing from gutters.

Tomorrow, when morning opens
like a King Protea, leave the mass
of white stamen alone. Instead,

let's wait for the sugarbirds to visit
and tune the loneliness of our desire
with pink bracts, memories, unstrung limbs.


The Work of Desire

It is work. Work for slugs to pull their bodies
across sidewalks unnoticed; work for dogs
to sleep in thin shafts of light and receive
no bones. Hush—the Irises, Daffodils,
Dandelions, Tulips along roadsides render
blasphemy. March Geraniums bloom
in absolute shade. Two-month old onions
sprout in wicker baskets. Friends stop by
to drink the last bottle of wine, spit black
watermelon seeds into the mint patch.

Days shut off, turn on. So what, so what,
each night's methodical waltz ends
with the same constellations. Orion shoots
old deer out of the black lands. The twins
frolic on their galaxal teeter-totter. And Venus,
that old whore for candle-lit dinners and too
much wine, pines for another. Is it any wonder
clouds can't stop traveling. Or that dogs
vanish inside their small dog homes. Or
that it is never a good time to talk.

Hush—it is the sound of fish without
scales passing down river, out of tune
with sudden March winds. Evening pays
its toll, crosses the horizon of outstanding
light. The water heater clicks out an oracle;
a Siamese dreams on a divan. Neighbors
stir a can of beans into a steel pot.
Bluebirds shoot off: they work
their wings into heaven and hover in lapis
desires, the breath of sky swooping into blue.


The Chihuly Sombero-Red Chandelier

We're attracted to this heart
dangling in the room's center,
glowing with reflected light.
It is our heart as it once was,
desire's red orb crafted by lovers'
hands, lovers departing.
What use the thousand-year-old
Chinese tea cups and Buddhist
tapestries that wait for our attention
at the bottom of the stairs when
here is the blood, the fragrance
of poppies, the intoxicating lust
for ourselves gripped by another?
Surely when we leave, we'll live
without intention. We'll raise up
our umbrellas and walk as the solar
system's chandelier drops behind
mills and smoke stacks; we'll carry
this sweet vulgarity throbbing inside us
as we greet the mid-afternoon, red evening.


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