A Poem by C.M. Clark

You Will Not Make Relics



This time Le-Ah brought flowers. She wrapped

them in oiled paper to discourage

the black flies, the army ants, the


rampaging legions of the under core – set

to work their spell. This chained plot she named

her garden, not hers really


just plowed and pruned by one blunt-cut grandmother

dressed in cotton and knit socks, one

never-mirrored face


to face. Yet the gardening gloves

fit hand to glove like a

glove. Le-Ah


never saw the irony in the empty day. There were clouds

obscuring the sun and their eyes gazed sideways –

the wind.


Now the day is daylight’s end.

There are no geese to separate,

their plucking subdued – the light


closed in cloud cover – the shade

clear across the yard of sandgrain and

slide. Le-Ah slips


away, dogged to stealth

in the corners of traffic – last feed

last peat ember – bed and food


a reluctant camouflage.


The condo in Xi’an was spacious, the garden cool and

two flights down. In summer

insects flew, finding the pinholes


in the kitchen screen. But room to wander

from room

to room.


Movement to a space framing absolution,

cheek by jowl enumerated – and slip-streaming site by site,

small, one key cut the illusion


of security. The papers of note keep

company decomposing watermarks,

fingerprints under black light


the milestones and threshold markers,

the mule’s retort. Joint tenants

of an old world


limned by paper.


The sand has a voice, the raptors,

the wings of falcons sheering cloud wool.

The spring coats of young camels, the males.


In Xi’an the desk drawers opened

and closed, the fires banked, the windows oiled

hinges oiled, newsprint, cleaning casements


with vinegar, its presence loud, loud

the street traffic, the feet of females prosaic and secular,

the males bouncing angels’ virtual choirs.


Dinner tables and low-riding clouds

in spring. Basso profundo, the fathers and brothers,

the sons by marriage, like clouds interred.


The grounding horizon, the limit line –

a scarab that entered the wrong

ear, the wrong untraveled


voyagers, the singing higher, the loss

of range

and hormone and sheer






C.M. Clark’s poetry has appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Metonym Literary Journal, The Lindenwood Review, Spire Light, Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry & Prose, the South Florida Poetry Journal, and Gulf Stream magazine, and will be featured in Demeter Press’s forthcoming anthology, Travellin’ Mama. Clark was runner-up for the Slate Roof Press Chapbook Contest and Elyse Wolf Prize, and a finalist for the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Series. She also served as inaugural Poet-in-Residence at the Deering Estate Artists Village in Miami. Author of full-length works, Charles Deering Forecasts the Weather & Other Poems (Solution Hole Press, 2012) and Dragonfly (Solution Hole Press, 2016), Clark’s most recent collection, The Five Snouts, was published by Finishing Line Press (2017).


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