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Katherine Soniat


Words Without A Song

A week after the killings, I read an overview
of the elegy. The long thin call of birds

plays in the background; that CD
where a man’s voice interrupts to name

each feathery blue-and-gold composer.
All day the airwaves shatter with freshly

arranged terms for war, for retribution and

The sky holds above, earth below—
foiled, silent horizon.

And us trampling the middle air
where amaranth first brightens the rubble.

Cobalt Blue

When what was mine was six weeks old,
the long legged chimney-bird stood in the lemon grass.
No swaddled baby swung from this stork’s beak.

No virgin tale to tell. Only my story in autumn of you
landing for the first night alone in your crib.

An owl flew by the frosted cabin window, foxfire in the brush.
Piercing cries at water’s edge, then the subtler notes with first light
in the trees.

You slept under blankets, a goldfish in a bowl by the curtain.
Two breaths, ripples moving in and out on the marsh. The wind.

Our home in cobalt blue I called it, place-name for this sphere
in the void—porch by the side of the road, wind chime
with whole and quarter notes colliding.

One Wing

Snow on the hills, and the slow sleep begins
that lasts until spring when sunlight pries like a knife—
earth no longer a damp cave but something lit,
with a shifting horizon.

The white one with wings flies by with twigs in its beak.

    dove of long ago that we made prophesy in our rainy
molecular world

   placebo of cool water on our faces us fumbling around
with thoughts to bring down whatever we could    and anything else
that might follow

   we carried sticks of and for fire loaded barrels with gray
powder   hot breath to the match   hot air in the head

   we hung ropes from branches    crushed villages     and spoke
in a broken tongue

   we drew conclusions without a sable brush       or carmine ink
bold sounds for no that translated into kill                             and apology
this never again will happen

   each phrase had an angle       a catch
that hooked some                                 and gutted others

   sharpness bit through the leaves   hindquarters     the jaw
snapped in a steel trap 

                          -from The Swing Girl

Listen to Soniat read her work here

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