Poetry Archive

“Wolf Creek”

The creek-bed is littered with salt

and silt and chicken wire.

At one time, the cattle could stand

 

on their own. The fencing rust-eaten

but still thick with heat.

You stayed with the children

 

until they fell asleep. I tried

to explain how the carpet caught fire

in the Polaroid you found

 

and where I got that necklace.

Red ants collapsed a black bird

on the front porch. We watched

 

each other undress, but took

separate showers. The dirt dried

to your ankles and arms

 

was your dirt. The idea to separate

was mine. Hunger makes the house

civil. Set the table. Wartime,

 

again. We saved the cooking fat

in a coffee tin so the soldiers

could use it for glycerin.

 

Out back, our single colt continues

to throw itself against its stall.

Thunderheads in the distant

 

ridge. In the hills, the holler farms.

Us still in bed, unable to ask

for more time and maybe.

______________________________________________

Eric Anderson‘s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, Black Warrior Review, Columbia Poetry Review, The Journal and elsewhere. He lives in Iowa City where he is studying and teaching creative writing at The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

“Night-Goat”

I am interminably white.

I limp,

gasping and feathery,

into your last blueness.

I want

the adoration of flowers.

 

O tightly wrapped little things,

cheeky reds, delectable yellows,

how they close against me!

How do they know

my beauty’s all

glam glitter

over bone?

 

Listen, my live ones,

I glow for you.

I am your night-goat.

Feeding and fattening,

I trim your darkness,

hold back

the wild cosmos.

 

Darklings,

I plead.

Unfold your pretty

tight-petaled skirts,

and I will send

tongues of light

down your long pretty throats.

§

“SAMARKAND”

It is as if the old woman in the square

raised her hand to you, and I,

the devoted master, packed you off

to Samarkand, thinking you would be safe

from her influence. There is no Samarkand

in these parts, nor dark old women

known by other names. What you heard

was your own voice, or maybe your mother’s,

calling you back. As life left you,

did you find yourself in the trolley

to Niagara Falls, in your braided uniform,

or had you shrunk to a child

playing outside your father’s surgery?

I am left with shards of memory,

film forgotten in a camera,

a ten-year-old photo of you,

lit by June sun, on my mother’s porch.

Could you have known, in the instant

I flicked the shutter, that you were gazing

beyond your life, beyond Samarkand,

that the look directed into the hooded lens

I would not see again till you were gone?

§

“A Room in the Museum”

In Teotihuacán, we walk on sheets of glass, thick enough to sustain our heavy heels as we tread the sky of the model Aztec city beneath us, scaled and laid out like a blanket. Outside, there are ruins. In here, things are complete, and we arrive centuries too late to partake in rituals, to indulge in cacao and war. But I can reach you by way of this fading Avenue of the Dead, a long stretch of pretend gravel littered with moss and plastic Aztecs frozen in poses that suggest the coming of Quetzalcoatl. Most, with mouths agape, crouch, while some, with arrows poised, ready to break the surface of glass, resemble jaguars feeding. Others, still as the ruins, with paint across their brows, and rows of feathers down each arm are too afraid to even open their eyes.

§

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