In honor of National Poetry Month, The Thread is introducing Poetry Fridays. Each Friday in April, we will publish a selection of poetry from local independent publishing houses Graywolf Press, Coffee House Press and Milkweed Editions.
• Poetry Friday: Week One | Week Two | Week Three
Mule TrailGretchen Marquette
Stirring the fire's coals with a stick—a familiar sound
I couldn't place until I shut my eyes—
the sound of walking through snow.
Each morning now, I wake thinking of him
because all night I hold on—like at the motel
when I slept curled around him, back against the headboard,
my hands in his gold hair. I'm trying to find a place to rest,
but loving him is like flying, like being starlings,
knowing when to move and how. It's nothing
like migration; no safe landings in brackish,
green estuaries. Still, there's the way the match hisses
when I touch its head to the glass of water.
There's the way he loves me. There's the way
the sun can heat the juice inside a berry
to the temperature of blood, and how good he is
at loving me. Something is building inside.
Pearls make me think of fevers. Blood oranges,
finches, the stick of a fish's silver skin to its flesh—
what do you do, when you realize you want
the whole of everything inside of you?
I don't want to tell what I've learned—
there's no way to repel love or to draw it close.
I don't want to say I'm bewildered, but
what makes a man love a woman?
I know the way he loves is not for spectacle. I know
this will not last. Before the end we'll drive to the desert
to see it bloom, to see vacant motels and red-gold buttes,
see the desert's blue stars and the collapsing
castles of its abandoned mini-golf courses,
the dark signs of its empty diners.
For now we have Mule Trail, where everything
looks like something else. The firewood in the pit,
lit from inside like a church's stained-glass window,
the plum's gold flesh laced with scarlet veins,
replica of a human brain. Maybe this is all we are—
carbon, water, color. We spent the storm in the tent,
woke up later and rebuilt the fire, heard coyotes'
eerie chatter, then the wolves'—lower and wiser,
with authority. Why am I so ungainly with love
after all the loving I've done? I didn't realize
until I was hours away—the insect bites, the pin-sized
blisters of stinging nettle, the raw interior skin.
What does it mean to be in love? As it turns out,
the second best thing that can happen to you
is a broken heart.
PieKaren Leona Anderson
If not by date, by book, by recipe,
then by pie, tattooed, cherry-lush
in the shattering crust I know by hand,
by heart—the garnet gone silk through slits,
the rolled-down skin over salt, rolled down
again, the press of the thumb as it rips
and drapes, undress arrested,
now lifted by heat to the light,
on which you could read,
now vellum, now welling with red,
the kiss of the needle, which if
you missed in your hurry, I guess
now cool, you'll see through slicks
and sheers of juice the sign I pieced
from crust through red, through cover,
through sugar, your name,
you stitched to it.
Peanut PondAllison Adelle Hedge Coke
Under poplars, maples
between turtles, black bass,
beauty between pollen
Canadians, two pair, lead
at least twenty-four goslings,
creep in from human worry
nearer peeper lives.
Heron swoop dailies,
Sometimes duty fails academic.
Poetry, practice of everything else:
paddled waters, lilies, samaras,
pine needled, caned sprigs,
some sweet vine
wraps hollow maple
flowering while I pen
over your writing
in the base of this canoe.
Mooring for a moment
over waterworlds below.
Only shift, paddle dip.
To still, straighten.