Poems: Cameras, Crows, and Ships

Atalanta in the High Atlas

You are so direct.
You take pictures with a telescopic lens
          and it brings you the world
straight down the barrel, incandescent,
          and nothing to either side.

I cannot telescope.
           I stand under my own quiet sky,
wondering how to pluck a mountain from a memory
            and let the night turn a billion brilliant prisms
on a page.

The Crow and the Pitcher

Here, I am a stone in a hot spring leaf; I radiate
the acquiescent heat of all stones. I am
dumb in the green dark. I say nothing. All around me I hear
the voices of other stones, who say
nothing. What do we hear? Water, clamouring
to the lip of a pitcher, and the shriek
of the bright black crow in flight.
Claws grasp – we are tossed to a sharp sky;
descend to find
a pitcher of cool others
conceding their heat, each once
or many times
clasped by the stone crow and thrown, voiceless,
into the drowning dark.

The Ship

How pleasant for the anchor
that the ship dares not contradict;
that her sails are put away,
her lines sleek and stalwart,
and her bow correctly aligned
to the downward pull.

How pleasant for the anchor
to imagine the rope steadfast-strong
and not to imagine
the buoyancy of the ship
or the strength of her hull
or the deep and steady cut of her keel
through water.

First published in The Glasgow Review of Books

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