A ritual for the year about to turn: We drive off, ceremonious, under a dark star-pricked and clear. A tinsel-curl of moon
fades in floodlight over the lots. We park close in, the early wisps of a winter storm driving the ceremony. Under the dark
of doubt and terrible headlines, let us perform to oboe sounds, in icelights, a mime of hope. The midweek lull, false calm before the storm,
and the mild Mozart soothe. Can this light-scape lay the old ghosts of children’s fallen faces? Can icelights, oboes, dissipate the fog-shape
of errors past, or futures with hollow voices that bark, saluting, Nothing to report—? Well, let us hope. Let us stroll with lifted faces
and cleave to sound and ceremony and art, in rituals for a year about to turn dark corners. Space is flinging itself apart star-pricked and clear, with a tinsel-curl of moon.
After Epiphany: Side Street
A leaden matins. Up the block, the scattered crows voice disapproval. A tow-truck groans: someone has fallen victim to the hard machinery of snow removal.
Someone has fallen, hard. The alley lies there plotting its slick betrayal. Fog-freeze blears our prospects. Time ticks dully, keeping accounts. Dull forms come in the mail.
Fallen on ordinary time, we drag our stripped trees to the trash, neighbors along a straight-and-narrow climb. The roadside snow takes on the grit of ash,
quit with the season, glum, half-gray. Salted by sober reckoning, we hunker down, not ready yet to tally the debt of penance for another spring.
Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter
Even while sleet spits in the parking lot and a bored girl with a tongue stud and fuchsia hair rings up these tasteless, stone-hard, gassed tomatoes, even now, I believe with perfect faith in the rounded, fragrant heirloom types to come. In covered farmers’ markets where flats of pansies spread in uncountable rows, their petals trembling all over, exactly the way it felt once, new- shucked from tux and tulle, sprung from our childhoods, rocketing into new lives, our possessions wagging behind us, crammed in a twelve-foot U-Haul with a governor and no radio, belting John Denver at the tops of our lungs for eleven hundred miles of farmland stippled green. And on the third day we came, gravel-throated and bone-jarred, to the place appointed. A stony hole in the ground gaped where a street should go, in front of our building, and we lugged our laden dressers across the blocks through air gritty with seasonal road construction, not faltering even then. And forty years of falling on stony ground still see us springing for Aprils, and therefore I believe in the future of the geeky bagger who never meets my eyes but will someday win the smile of the pink-haired cashier. In palms, as they beckon to me from glossy covers and sway over swimwear that conquers the laws of physics. In Elvis, who will return in a blaze of sequins to burn away all sorrow, yea though he tarry.
Maryann Corbett is the author of two chapbooks, Dissonance and Gardening in a Time of War. Her poems, essays, and translations have appeared in many journals in print and online. New work is forthcoming in Subtropics, Literary Imagination, andAmerican Arts Quarterly. She lives in St. Paul and works for the Minnesota Legislature.