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Rachel Dacus


Listen to Rachel Dacus read this poem:


— for David

I never like running out, the empty
pill and shampoo bottle, the last paper towel
a stunted iris unfurling on a brown spindle.
I don't like the half-sentence ramming
an idea, butting scant-eyed
until you, my architect, point out the latch
on the gate, slide it back
and let the poor thing run.

I like how you amass angles all day,
dentil work and eyebrow windows, pediments
and rusticated corbels. You sketch and sketch
until the flat field rises. You collage
towers from the what’s-around, then discompile
my hair and launch into morning’s red rant,
towel around your head. O pharaoh of forever,
my samurai of soffits, I like

holding the measuring tape’s other end
while you fill in dimensions. Like how you relegate
to hack the movie architect’s dreamscape.
How when I lack ribbon for a package
you divine a native curlicue in twine.
Your buildings aren’t so much designed
as accrued, like stones water-stacked
on a river bank, true to a mysterious designer’s
essential order—to casual, causal felicity.



Listen to Rachel Dacus read this poem:

O Beautiful

The white-haired woman lowers binoculars
            and points: Eagle! 
                        We raise our glasses and scan
the Point Reyes hills to see a white-headed fledgling
            standing on a ridge. His stretched wings
                        sieve the wind. The beaked head, a pharaoh’s,
turns slowly. Through our trembling glasses, the Golden
            Quarter comes alive—O, beautiful for spacious!
                        We descend to the estuary,
leaving behind his practice flights—a hoist
            into the sky, free-fall and strike—his freedom
                        now law-forged. He’s a leashed kite
tethered to this range where a few more eagles
                        nest each year, their circles
            pruning a sky whose curve
                        can only be seen by satellite.
                        At the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital, a tethered eagle
hops atop his cage. His broken wing
            created a captivity that extends his life
                        beyond that of cliff-roaming cousins.
            He flaps in tight
                                    circles, snapping dark flags.
                        We stand back,
            doubting the chain while he puzzles us
                        with a hard black eye. A sign tells
his story. I cannot translate to him a place
            where eagles and my species
                        now roam together
in practice flight. I cannot relate
            to him our wild attempts to lift
and span a shrinking globe
                                    with balanced rights—O beautiful!
            I cannot say how like you we want to aerial,
                        white-headed in stretch and glide,
                                    as when we struck down a Majesty
                                                and first began to loft
                                    on nothing but the right to flight.



Rachel Dacus has three poetry books: Another Circle of Delight, Femme au chapeau, and Earth Lesson. A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, she serves as a contributing editor for Umbrella and blogs as Rocket Kids.

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