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
to face. Yet the gardening gloves
fit hand to glove like a
never saw the irony in the empty day. There were clouds
obscuring the sun and their eyes gazed sideways –
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
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
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).