Canzone Delle Preposizioni

Caroline Knox
I packed up the books: Under
Milk Wood, Of
Mice and Men, Under
the Window, Under
the Volcano, Up
from Slavery, The Thunder-
ing Herd, Under
the Greenwood Tree, The Over-
Coat, The Changing Light at Sandover,
Under-
world, Out
of Africa, Paris Trout;

and I went over
to the Under-
woods' house over
on River Road. Over-
head the blackness of
clouds out-
paced a fleeing sun. Out
and up
the clouds rolled, roiled up, 
wrung out
in horrendous rain over
and over.

I had agreed over
coffee one day to farm out
lots of books people were giving over
to the library book sale over
at the high school. Under
the agreement, volunteers took books over
to the Underwoods' over
spring break. I was up
for this, and signed up.
Over
I drove, up
the Cross Road, and turned up

River Road. I walked up
the Underwoods' driveway and over
the lawn. The voice of Dawn Up-
shaw drifted up 
from a CD player, and out
on the screen porch was John Up-
dike's new book of essays, next to the Up-
anishads. Under 
the lilacs, under
the clematis, climbing up 
trellises of
lath, of

ironwork, of
wicker, blossoms hardly held up
their heads. Of
course, of
course; but the storm that had crushed them was over.
Pools of
water, of
mud were all around. The Underwoods' cookout
was a washout, 
but the sun of
a glowing afternoon under-
cut the thunder.

The Under-
woods took all the discarded books out
of the trunk of my car, and then dove them (with lots of other books) over
to the high school, where these books were put up
for sale for the benefit of the Westport Free Public Library, a generous act
    which the Underwoods should be proud of.

More by Caroline Knox

His Heart

His heart keeps him awake while he's asleep.
He listens to his heart while he falls asleep in bed.
His artificial heart gives him insomnia.
As long as I can hear the sound, I know I'm here.

His heart keeps him alive while he's asleep.
My heart helps me to sleep while I'm alive.
Oh, patient, this Valentine is for you.

I had no choice, I knew that I was dying.
We are trying to survive. We are standing on the shoulders
of the makers of the heart while we lie on our back in bed.
They walk with their hearts on their sleeves and their noses to the grindstone.
He listens to his heart while he falls asleep at night.

Oh, Valentine, this contraption is for you,
device of the sacred, the sacred heart.
It feels heavy to me--it makes a constant whir
which keeps me awake when I'm trying to get to sleep.
It has no heartbeat, only this constant whir.

Line Poem

Long jetty, long shell-racked jetty, cracked warped planks.

Beautiful fish, beautiful sea-bass poached with an August tomato, on an ironstone plate.

A snake's slough, a snake's spinal cord, a dry-rot stump.

A twill tape measure, an audiotape cassette unspooled and puckered, shining.

Agate prayer beads, kazoos, whistles, rattles.

A bike-chain and a bungy cord.  A moebius strip and a broccoli elastic.

Split vanilla pod inset with paltry-looking flat oily brown seeds.

Egg-and-dart molding of vitreous fake sandstone.  Contrails, mares' tails, mackerel sky.

Subjects [excerpt]

You see them through water and glass,
(both liquids) and through air
with plenty of liquid in it
—water is moving through the air—
you see the large dolphins animated,
unfractious in their native 
drink, going
back and forth interacting with
some sort of rings—in a minute-long video—
in a loop, we see these
dolphins again and again
looping through rings,
in indirect discourse
ringing through the loops. 
We see, you see, dolphins
advertising something
we don't have and 
we don't want; advertising
exfoliants and astringents,
humectants,
which dolphins don't 
know about and wouldn't
want if they did, the
sloe-eyed ones.  They 
make us feel free,
silent. "Nature film,
nature film!" See them
in their independence
through water and glass articulating
dolphin home truths.