These are notes to lightning in my bedroom. A star forged from linen thread and patches. Purple, yellow, red like diamond suckers, children of the star gleam on sweaty nights. The quilt unfolds against sheets, moving, warm clouds of Chinook. It covers my cuts, my red birch clusters under pine. Under it your mouth begins a legend, and wide as the plain, I hope Wisconsin marshes promise your caress. The candle locks us in forest smells, your cheek tattered by shadow. Sweetened by wings, my mothlike heart flies nightly among geraniums. We know of land that looks lonely, but isn't, of beef with hides of velveteen, of sorrow, an eddy in blood. Star quilt, sewn from dawn light by fingers of flint, take away those touches meant for noisier skins, annoint us with grass and twilight air, so we may embrace, two bitter roots pushing back into the dust.
From Star Quilt by Roberta J. Hill. Copyright © 1984, 2001 by Robert J. Hill. Used by permission of Holy Cow! Press. All rights reserved.
We've come so far, thought the astronaut as he swam around the capsule in his third week and by accident kicked a god in the eye —so far that there's no difference anymore between up and down, north and south, heavy and light. And how, then, can we know righteousness. So far. And weightless, in a sealed room we chase the sunrises at high speed and sicken with longing for a green stalk or the heft of something in our hands. Lifting a stone. One night he saw that the Earth was like an open eye that looked at him as gravely as the eye of a child awakened in the middle of the night.
From North in the World: Selected Poems of Rolf Jacobsen, translated and edited by Roger Greenwald. Translation © 2002 by Roger Greenwald. Reprinted by permission of the University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.
I'm not right. I'm interfered with and bent as light. I tried to use the spots, for months I tried with rings. Only now I'm thinking in cracks that keep a modern light lunged. I keep the porch light on to burn you off in ghosted purls, the licks of which filament me. My Day-Glo tongue's cutthroat. Though I'm not clear, I'm a sight whose star stares back: it's a new kind of dead; it hides its death in my cinched testicle. That bright burr makes me unreal and itch. By the time I'm something else, you're making weather with so-and-so. Drama tenants you; it wades in queasy waves, mottled to the marrow. My mean streak beams neon so I won't be refracted or led to reflections. My eyes trick god's and kick the careless reversals of radio cure-alls. Rays suffer until they clench the damaged night in me: where I go out, gone as done in a mood of black moving through. Darkness sits there, pleased. An iridescent ire could not go unaired, my limbs wicking at the window. Look out the window. I've outened the world to show you real barrenness: a void a light warps into want and then wants until it warps all it glances.
From Alaskaphrenia by Christine Hume. Copyright © 2004 by Christine Hume. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Poetry & Prose. All rights reserved.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Written June 12, 1814. This poem is in the public domain.