Night, Plowing

Snow droops the hemlock boughs.
A blood patch by the house,
warm enough to melt its own impression.
Sophie brings a deer leg to the porch,
perfect in its severed self-cohesion,
and later noses through the gouged-out pelt,
gently, her mouth as soft as felt.

Her loyalty is not with us,
but with this stretch of spruce and birch,
black walnut, oak.
The cabin holds heat like a body, imperfectly.

Snow, two inches an hour—
we diagram the fire, every flicker.
Later in the plow, you say what a farce
monogamy is. Your weathered leather hat,
graying at the temples.

You think I’ll disagree.
In the unbroken dark, a housecat scurries
into the bobcat’s path. You build walls of snow,
send us slamming into them.

My body is the weapon we both wield.

Sophie whines into the dark.
Vanity farms, geldings, red barns
trimmed in frost, the river
and its tributaries. Your love will be
what you make it, a nest
of snakes sleeping in the walls.
Snow on hemlocks.  In the morning,
barricaded roads, the frozen hearth.

 

 

 

Near Heidelberg

                        a broken queue of students 
 claiming love, the quay
 of tethered boats
             and in the pines 
 beyond the burg
            the river like milk
 through moss-covered cliffs.  
 Unbearable thingness
 of things—an extinction of frogs,
 a betrayal of need.
            Memory in stones and 
 the lace of too-white edelweiss
 in mourning, our mistrust
             a waterfall 
                         stricken by weirs.

             This immobilized tributary, 
 starved for greed.  
 Rutted hill road, gravel,
             affection like a trapped 
 paw gnawed off.
Tomorrow, I will leave you.

 

 

 

Swimming Lesson

On top of your body
propped on rocks
by the shale promontory
and shadow of the lighthouse
with its implications
too obvious to limn
where foam gathered
and broke in the kelp
with spits and sprays
the sea growing ever
more greedy and these
are still your environs
despite the estrangement
your dark eyes darkened
by my questions closed
with the divided heat
of your body beneath me
I looked out to where
there was no land beyond
to that imagined harbor
and the island of thirst-
easing olives and fish-skinned
fruits you promise
without meaning
to show me and thought
of what it would take
to make it
how far out I could swim
on my own
if I leapt

 

 

 


Eleanor Goodman writes fiction and poetry, and translates contemporary Chinese poetry. Her work has appeared widely in journals such as PN Review, Los Angeles Review, Fiction, Pleiades, Perihelion, New Delta Review, The Guardian, Cha, and The Best American Poetry website. Her first novel is represented by Inkwell Management. She was a Visiting Artist in Poetry at the American Academy in Rome in the winter of 2012.

Header photo courtesy Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

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