Cardinal in pine

Two Poems by Judith Harris

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Cardinal and Pine Through
an Open Window

Every morning, the sun sets fire
to the fringed edges of the pine,
its pungent smell like turpentine
but now a stale perfume,
light equivocating in spiny shadows
of green. Then a flash of a cardinal
like a struck match, gliding on a burr
in the branch, inflating with song,
with the music of what’s happened
before turning back to the insistent
domestics of its chores, and I know
by the blue tint above, and easy
bluster of its wings, I’ve woken
on the right side of darkness.



When You Were Dying

When you were dying, I was awake
but did not hear you quietly close
the door to this life, at the very moment

you were turning away into a darkness
all of your own. Now that you’re dead,
you freely re-enter my dreams,

twenty years younger, with more flesh
on your bones, and I’m joyful again,
but you’re always gone by morning.

And there were times, I raised my voice,
crying out to you, and it took you forever
swearing you never heard me.




Judith HarrisJudith Harris is the author of Atonement and The Bad Secret (LSU Press), Night Garden (Tiger Bark Press), and Signifying Pain: Constructing and Healing the Self Through Writing (SUNY Press). Her poems have been published in The Nation, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, The Hudson Review, Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, the syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry, and Poem-a-Day with the Academy of American Poets. Her recent articles on poetry have appeared in AWP’s The Chronicle, Midwest Quarterly, Green Mountains Review, and the Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis. Her new book of criticism is The Poetry of Loss: Romantic and Contemporary Elegies, published by Routledge in 2023.

Read more poetry by Judith Harris appearing in one poem and two poems.

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