Features

The One I Get and Other Artifacts

                                   Oil has seeped into
the margins of the ditch of standing water

and flashes or looks upward brokenly,
like bits of mirror—no, more blue than that:

like tatters of the Morpho butterfly.

—Elizabeth Bishop

 

How young were my boys when I moved them to a town, . . .

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Stillness, Waiting

If the trout died it would not be

as motionless as it is now,

in a current a man cannot 

stand in and under which looser

stones go tumbling from their sockets.

Across its back it seems sunlight

is what’s swimming, . . .

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Lands of Lost Borders

Tibetan Plateau

My obsession with borders was born all at once in three different countries, depending on who you ask. I was in my early twenties, biking with a friend across the parched soda plains of the Askai Chin. For weeks we traversed this high-altitude wilderness, a land spread wide as wings, . . .

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L  Is for Leaves

Not to worry. Each morning 

after you kiss my cheek 

and lock the door behind you, 

leaving me alone with my body 

and this house to walk it around in, 

I’ve plenty to do. Monitoring

the meat defrosting on the counter,  . . .

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Black Work

She stood at the window and watched me.

How long she had waited for me to wake up

I dared not ask, nor could she have answered, 

her jaws woven shut by the undertaker’s twine,

a trade she knew well, having taught herself 

black work by night in the attic, . . .

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Two Characters in Search of an Essay

1. JK

He was always the smallest, in any room, “an Atom of a man” somebody said (the word existed then, although not in our later sense); but spunky, quick to rise to a righteous indignation and to support it with a whirligig of fists.

“Terrier courage,” one of his schoolfellows called it. . . .

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Finding Emily & Elizabeth

My garrulous neighbor, Walter—a red-nosed U.S. Army Major (retired)—gives me books, volumes that he snatches up at the occasional library inventory purges at the University of Idaho, where I teach. Some are good, others not as good. Some I park on my bookshelves, others I recycle or use as doorstops. . . .

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White Peaches

The white peaches announce themselves on the kitchen counter, 

quick scent flinting alight the worm-eaten dawn, 

the clean-edged note almost mineral, so unlike 

the vague, pulpy yellow of girlhood:

 

the backyard peach tree bowed down with too much 

sun-bruised fruit, . . .

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