Two Poems by Emma Aylor

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Early February

Morning, and a taste of seawater
only at the broad of my tongue.

Morning in lichens airy as cut paper
folded, slit, and unfolded, left rumpling

the atmosphere that rests on the table;
lichens like green glass, as though they could

pull kept light from heartwood or stone
straight through. I misremember the Stevens

each time as It was morning all afternoon,
and on Puget Sound it was raining, was going to rain.

I’m gone to ground. The scale of a solitude
is set by a body and the rooms it most occupies.

Good to enter sacred space now and again:
a century’s stand of deciduous branches perforated

by snips of gray haze and a Pacific madrone,
insistent single evergreen, edging its color up;

the cathedral where I observe compline,
plastered walls, peached wood beams, lamps roseate

to touch, and there in plainsong—eyes closed,
and you were visiting, beside me on a pew,

your head rested on my lap (you were a little asleep)—
I saw behind my lids the slip

of moths down warm window, like cloud and star in open sky.
Morning again all night, then, in the way

it’s invariably a granted time, a blessing—
in the Old English manner, to hallow with blood,

to make a thing more itself, more of god, by a body.
So, it was morning: the cold mist outside the church, the talk,

the ride home to my room in hours-old winter dark,
the body, the bed, the blessing, to bless.

 

 

Remarks Before Florence

The wind comes inland to Virginia
weakened, all fanned out to the hem of the Blue Ridge,
thick ribbon braided with the brown river’s
running water. Warm air fills soft cracks in the rock;
the rain’s not yet come, but holds salt—Lord
willing and the creek don’t rise.
Bigtooth aspen shake, their pale underleaves
like silverfish crawling up from under
a swollen door.
                             Out to the sticks,
the animals feel it: kettle
of turkey vultures skirrs above, jerked
in bursts, tape rewound, static spread,
boiled—running water.
                                           Don’t rise.
Twenty years ago, we evacuated
from South Carolina, then returned
as Bonnie trailed away. Wind shear
from land, sea animals dropped smeared
on slope, the ocean dead calm, my mother says,
like a lake.
                     It hasn’t yet rained here,
though the ground’s already full, and air
carries brittle birdcalls over the swollen river.
Gusts worry pillars of kudzu knit over telephone poles
and hollow trees—standing bodies—a green burn
shifting like a light spot left in the eye, the sky
gray and strained downward,
                                                      a full tarp, bowing.

  

  

 

Emma AylorEmma Aylor’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 32 Poems, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Colorado Review, and the Cincinnati Review, among other journals, and she received Shenandoah’s 2020 Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets. She lives in Lubbock, Texas. Catch up with her at EmmaAylor.com.

Header photo by Hermann Steurer, courtesy Pixabay.

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