Three Poems

Baker’s Pick
Lita Sorensen


Earnestness
This morning the question gleams with particles of sun. There’s crying; there’s laughter.
What do you make of it?
—Joy Harjo, from “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky”

You see the black-limbed tree caught across
broad harvest moon dotted full of crows,
their calls like dry barks in dark air.

Then there’s Sara’s painting, all air & wax-rendered
sky, half-buried crows
dance beneath the breadth of surface.

You hear the poet’s voice free itself
from the radio in bright stars; extol
the virtue of crows, their black-clad
parson seriousness alert against snow-choked hills—

You see Native American song
comparing crows and death like arrows to the heart
and the nature of the universe—

But like notes on a page of Chinese writing
the melody escapes you;
dim crows get caught at the back of your throat.

 

How can we know the dancer from the dance?
—found phrase, Yeats

We cannot know her from her dance,
succinct in metaphors
toe to bar, toe to floor
creating swan movements
with air.

We might ask who she is, under the mystique
of words, like a lover questions
the one he holds after clasping
a body in underwater roots, currents—
maybe in relief. But still, we cannot know.

The steps are too intricate. Spider webs
of fibers woven
in will, in water, in sweat.

You may christen her in despair—
that you love her, or that you feel nothing
for her, for you cannot know why
she is tied to a ribbon of this life

like a neuron, an atom frozen
yet dancing in god-like vacancy
alive in rhythmic swaying.

The amplitudes vary. You can see her step
like ripples on a lake, or move like a mad
summer storm, angry with thunder—

All a brief interlude.

 

Night and its forces…
—a found phrase (after Michael Ondaatje)

Like a sumac bush hiding
twigs and leaves and magenta
shadows

Giving itself to darkness
and sublimation—

The world was always yours.
In moments of ordinary beauty
you knew it: the slim sylvan
moon climbing the sky beyond
prairie-town buildings,
“Night Blue,” the name of

some panavision cathode ray tube
shade, real this time.

The world is hush, is solitude,
and for all those not listening
is foolish, is fear—

For it is everything:
the whir of the air conditioners in
the background, the tenants asleep
bathed in the cool light of television
screens; the tall sonorous trees, dark;
their leaves whispering of things
known years ago;

the small, sad opossum
crawling over stone steps
to hide, much maligned by humans;
the sparks of stars remote above
the noisy clatter of cities, illuminating
car lots and park lands alike.

There is no way to make reparation.
And night has known this from
first knowledge of days.

See how illumination grows.
Photographs record all the earth
and her inhabitants;
yet none of it to eyes that remain unedited.

Lush landscapes, parking lots
the same to lenses
recording the same
cold light, or dew dropped screen.

pencil

Lita Sorensen’s poetry has been published in various online and print journals, among them, Briar Cliff Review, Dislocate, Wolf Moon Press Journal, Coffee House Poetry Press (UK), (all forthcoming), The Cortland Review, Ink and Ashes, Amoskeag: The Journal of Southern New Hampshire University, Yemassee: The Journal of the University of South Carolina, Poetry Midwest, Bovine-Free Wyoming, and The Wild Goose Poetry Review: The Journal of North Carolina—Piedmont College. A selection, “Quarto, with Crows,” will also be included in an upcoming anthology, Beat the Blackened Wing: An Anthology of Crows. In addition, she has published three books of nonfiction for young adults for Rosen Press in New York City. She has a master’s degree in creative writing, and recently moved west to Arizona from Iowa City, IA, where she lives with her partner, Matt, and a big red dog named Iris. E-mail: lsoren[at]msn.com.

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