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Sample Poems by Anne Colwell
Where the tree leans dead into the water
the current left silt, last autumn’s
leaves. The season’s first rain made the river
muddy, fat, like a woman
due in March, mumbling in its sleep.
and snakes come. The turtle,
asleep under flattened shadows
of water striders, feels the slow
blink of body in the current
and the fallen rain.
She will heft her stony back,
move on clawed, stump legs.
Water striders, born awake,
skate still, easy in the rippling—
believing their shadows, never
imagining how slender a thing it is
to walk on water.
Casida of the Lover Longing to Return
—Seville, Holy Week
I will, I will come back,
when feria, drunken,
stabbed by a thief,
through its last days,
when saints float like corks
through church doors
on a river of carnation,
when black hooves
tattoo your ears and German
your eyes’ black stones.
Look for me then,
ignored in cafes
where my countrymen
boast of beloved
Look for me,
alone in a flowered
beneath a black mantilla.
Look for me at noon.
I will turn the corner
of the cathedral
wearing its shadow
across my face, a veil
against the heat.
Coming home from the orthodontist
mouth filled with tightness
not yet ache,
I sat beside my mother
who steered the green Dodge
through Pennsylvania autumn,
always stopping at the dairy store
on Route 5— homemade ice cream,
Freezer cases lined the back.
Behind them, a girl, smeary blue
eye shadow, lank hair,
handed over dripping cones.
Every visit there we’d walk around back
where, in decrepit chicken coops, somebody
(Could it have been that girl?)
Fascinated by their exoticness,
we watched that cock and his hen
strut and peck in pine needles
and leaf trash at the edge
of the parking lot.
What nostalgia makes it always fall
and always my mother, sober,
delighted by the tail full of eyes,
the misplaced lovers.
The Centaur Comes Down Main Street in March
I rode a centaur down Main Street
on a March afternoon, past
Newark Newsstand and Rosa’s Pizza,
the burnt out, abandoned Opera House.
I ran my hand across parking meters
like a picket fence and then leaned
forward to place that hand on his chest
and tangle the other in his damp curled hair.
Then he said words as real as stones
to be kicked along and all the delicate
women crumpled their bags
and lowered their eyes.
He said words as real as years
with separate families and far away,
when he rides off
where his world goes and I live
in some trailer park
off the Cleveland highway.
When, failing our bareback
ride into the sunset, when,
maybe we don’t even write,
but just remember,
while waiting for the plumber
who never shows
or sleepless and staring from a window—
one soft March at noon
we rode down Main Street and I leaned forward
to lick the tip of his ear,
with a hand pressed to his chest
and another tangled in the hair
at the base of his neck.