Another chip in the white enameled sink, only three years old. How

                                    I've tried to keep it pristine, and yet—

            stainless steel pots scrape it till the black

cast iron breaks through. What's below a surface gloss. Now the flesh

                                    on my hands has grown so thin

            the layers underneath show through,

rivery veins and knobby metacarpals. Knuckles like pebbles—like

                                    rocks. I've bordered my rose beds

            with stones from Blanco Creek. How long

did it take to shape those irregular rounds and ovals? Our house, built

                                    of blocks mined from the quarry only

            five miles up the road—limestone

formed in the Paleozoic Era. My favorite paperweight: a fossilized

                                    clam I found in the backyard, remains

            from the time the land around us

lived under ocean. Something so pocked, wizened, holding my papers

                                    in place. Arriving at the Grand Canyon,

            we've all peered down at those

dozens of rock layers—granite, dolomite, sandstone, shale, basalt—

                                    formed two million, maybe two billion

            years ago. And who would want

to mend that great magenta-, purple-, blood-shaded rip in the earth's

                                    surface? It's what we come for,

            to gawk at all those layers, exposed.

Copyright © 2015 Wendy Barker. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review. Used with permission of the author.


Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

Copyright 1923, 1925, 1951, 1953, © 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1976 by George J. Firmage. From The Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, Edited by George J. Firmage. Reprinted by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.