Red Lilies

Barbara Guest - 1920-2006
Someone has remembered to dry the dishes;
they have taken the accident out of the stove.
Afterward lilies for supper; there
the lines in front of the window
are rubbed on the table of stone

The paper flies up
then down as the wind
repeats. repeats its birdsong.

Those arms under the pillow
the burrowing arms they cleave
as night as the tug kneads water
calling themselves branches

The tree is you
the blanket is what warms it
snow erupts from thistle;
the snow pours out of you.

A cold hand on the dishes
placing a saucer inside

her who undressed for supper
gliding that hair to the snow

The pilot light
went out on the stove

The paper folded like a napkin
other wings flew into the stone.

More by Barbara Guest

The Blue Stairs

There is no fear 
in taking the first step 
or the second 
or the third

                having a position
                between several Popes

In fact the top 
can be reached 
without disaster

                precocious

The code 
consists in noticing 
the particular shade 
of the staircase

                occasionally giving way
                to the emotions

It has been chosen
discriminately

To graduate 
the dimensions 
ease them into sight

                republic of space

Radiant deepness 
a thumb 
passed over it

                disarming
                as one who executes robbers

Waving the gnats 
and the small giants 
aside
                balancing

How to surprise 
a community 
by excellence

somehow it occurred

                living a public life

The original design 
was completed 
no one complained

In a few years
it was forgotten

                floating

It was framed 
like any other work of art 
not too ignobly

                kicking the ladder away

Now I shall tell you
why it is beautiful

Design: extraordinary 
color: cobalt blue

                secret platforms

Heels twist it
into shape

It has a fantastic area 
made for a tread 
that will ascend

Being humble 
i.e. productive

Its purpose
is to take you upward

On an elevator 
of human fingerprints 
of the most delicate 
fixity

Being practical
and knowing its denominator

To push
one foot ahead of the other

Being a composite
which sneers at marble

                all orthodox movements


It has discovered 
in the creak of a footstep 
the humility of sound

Spatially selective 
using this counterfeit 
of height

To substantiate
a method of progress

Reading stairs 
as interpolation 
in the problem of gradualness

                with a heavy and pure logic

The master builder
acknowledges this

As do the artists 
in their dormer rooms

                eternal banishment


Who are usually grateful 
to anyone who prevents them 
from taking a false step

And having reached the summit 
would like to stay there 
even if the stairs are withdrawn

The Past

The form of the poem subsided, it enters another poem.

A witness was found for the markings inscribed upside-down.

It might have been a celebration, so strong the presence

of the poem. The sky sinks slowly inside the past.

Echoes

Once more riding down to Venice on borrowed horses,
 

the air free of misdemeanor, at rest in the inns of our fathers.

Once again whiteness like the white chandelier.

Echoes of other poems...