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Joanna I. Kaminski

Joanna I. Kaminski received her MFA from Washington University in Saint Louis. She works at the University of Texas at Austin, where she lives.

By This Poet

2

Absence

Between pines, a pause
in the forest, transparent, yet visible,
like how no, in its nothing

is still an answer, is the water

I could not give her, the wish
taken out of the well; and her bones
left to vanish in their circle

become the circle, are the clearing

I approach. And when at last I am alone,
I ask her death to hold me, the way air holds up
a bird above its home. Or how my seat, when I stood up

became empty, and remained—in those moments

when she asked and I walked toward her—both an end
and a waiting,
and an end to the waiting.

Open Sea

He predicted froth, and geese
took to the sky like a hurricane.
I trust my captain. He told me
when I turn over on my stomach in sleep
to think of loneliness. I draw a circle
and put an X through it for here, meaning ship.
All I packed was an empty pillowcase and aspirin
and rain I collected. The geese turn their bodies
into clouds for me to pour the rain.
Nights I tuck my fingers into feathers
and repeat a song I was sung as a baby.