Snow, the Lane Home
It’s cold enough to cry. Grass comes through in places despite the snow. No other choice, we walk single file, knowing where tires would slide in the static between stations (eager flocks of chickadees). The stratus sky, toned only slightly darker than the snow, promises chances of maybe more. Out from Ellis Grove, slight lines mark the ditches of our road where snow sinks down, the fields tombstones, quarried from the river bluff, unpolished, not yet engraved.
Picking beggar’s lice off cuffs of jeans,
we find somewhere in between
the goldenrod has dried into rope
that ties up the winter meadows.
The dew claws and unbroken things,
unlaced, unknotted, undone, rest
understood in tongues’ undersides
where tendons tie our sounds to speech
sent out from the throat. The mud
has frozen, so all beasts go on their paths
without leaving prints among the stones.
A telephone rings until it stops inside
the house. That is understood as no.
From here, outside, claws find
a busted string of beads, pieces of trees
carved into baubles. Voices on the line
are never given a moment. Robins
flock around the sky of bark, the shock
of ice on cattle ponds and ditches, the fur
we grow to try to push the cold out.
Daughters of Charity
On Sunflower Island,
the sisters, two as the piasas,
face east with the wild
sunflowers. The buds had
followed the summer sun
from Illinois, across
the Mississippi to where
forest encounters sky.
The twenty wild heads rise
four feet tall, twenty rays
bearing the eyes of the seeds.
The sisters tend the dying,
watching pox bust as beads,
praying over the dead in graves
in river silt. They know
each soldier, each guard first
cherished flesh at his mother’s
breast, learning to form words
in laughing vowels. The sisters
send the souls past ironsides
and underwater panthers. They
send them not north or south
but up with quarry dust
in the disciplined release of stone.
North of Alton
Around fire pits of charcoal
and baked clay, find
mussel shell spoons,
hammerstones, bone awls,
pipes, beads of robes,
and the bones of those
who came before
flexed in limestone, not
burned with lime. Fire
disturbs the stone, discolors it,
as if night grabbed
hold of dawn with its mass
of olivella beads. Find this
north of Alton, away
in the veins of plums,
walnuts, stones, and the colors
of the piasas, a reminder not
to forget something. When
the prisoners of war worked
the quarry, the piasas’ red,
green, black fell to the river.
Effect of the Sun Setting on the Mississippi
is as if we discovered new elements,
cadmium, cobalt, chrome,
jade and violet, defined.
You can take this picture
a hundred times and never
catch quite the same
onslaught of water, volume
of wood or soil.
The king of Thebes, released
in coal dust; a goblin’s
ore; a polish on metals; all
serve against the corrosion
of iron and steel, on the river
vibrant in changing light
Angie Macri was born and raised in southern Illinois. She was awarded an individual artist fellowship by the Arkansas Arts Council and teaches in Little Rock. Her poems can be found in Third Coast, Best New Poets 2010, and Two Weeks: An Anthology of Digital Poetry of Contemporary Poetry and are forthcoming in publications including Natural Bridge, CutBank, and A Face to Meet the Faces.