How a moth flies into a poem
Inevitably she is driving
when it happens—
a poem moves inside her like moth wings.
The horn coughs as she struggles
to shape words on the steering wheel,
flutters her pencil’s point
against a crumpled grocery list.
Other drivers think she’s on the phone,
her car erratic, swooping for the flowers
at the side of the road.
But the wobble is from the poem
twitching as it tries to fly
within her body:
wings sticky with verbs,
her diaphragm tickled with nouns
that won’t settle or fly off
while in front of the car the horizon
slices her destination into stanzas,
breaks her heart into pieces
of moth-sparked air.
How to read a poem
Some words are more important
than others: disquietude, adoration,
despondency. Others are translated
over and over. The Yanomami
know that shabono means home.
Infants cannot speak but know
the word for heart as if it were magic.
And here in the stark middle
of adulthood, home and heart
still seem remarkable, necessary
even. The home is the heart
of everything my bookmark says
from its place between two poems
that witness the indescribable.
These are the words the heart knows
are needed. This is the sound the fingers
make as they turn the pages again and again,
needing a way to spell magic in a thousand
This is not a poem
It is a window. It is an archway
between one room and another.
It is the dust that flees
from the cleaning cloth.
It is the voice of a memory:
your grandmother’s heavy tread
as she cleaned in the hall
This is not a poem because
there are too many snowflakes.
Dust lies complacent on a cloth,
discarded in the other room
like a sign of peace.
It is odd that the snow
has paused in the door’s arch
like a heavy footstep
or a memory.
This is the sound of your child
asleep in a clean room.
Snow has starred
the windows like dust.
It is dark now, but this is not
a memory to be wiped clean.
No, it is a new door, opened
and forever ajar like an archway
that is not a poem.
[First appeared in The Guardian, Jane Duran’s “Opposition victories” Workshop]
The solace of poetry
Your letters sprawl over open spaces,
prairies of considerate emptiness,
the sky poised and patient.
Here your steady hand threads
winter’s last breath into the relaxed
crease of a stanza. There the white pause
of a line sighs in understanding
before the next rolling hill splays
its verbs open with a single,
This is the language that gallops
over the slow rise of horizon
before sliding into the black shoulder
of a mountain. Even the most frightened
trees are comforted as the poem
runs beyond the expected,
until the last residue of color
fades in the inevitable dark.
At the end of your poem is eternity.
I don’t know how to inhale
the infinitesimal breath of this noun,
its portent of indelible realization.
It is like the clouds that remake the world.
It must be read over and over until the difficult
tempest of language is fastened to the skin,
until blindness disappears in the quiet rumble
of the hill’s deep voice.
And because a poem is useless
without conflict, yours has its share
of death and the awkward movement
from one person to another.
But the butterflies have all stilled for tonight.
Your words seep into the deep bloom
of the dark while Mars and various stars
shiver overhead. I stretch my fingers
into the unbridled growth of ivy and consider
the solace of poems, so necessary against the warm
and familiar edge of sleep.
Christine Klocek-Lim is an editor, novelist and prize-winning Pennsylvania poet who received the 2009 Ellen La Forge Memorial Prize in poetry. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was a finalist for 3 Quarks Daily’s Prize in Arts & Literature, among others. She has written for Nautilus and is the author of one full length poetry collection, Dark Matter (Aldrich Press, 2015). She is the editor of Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY and is an Acquisition Editor for Evernight Teen and Evernight Publishing.