5 Over 50 Reads 2016

Her, Infinite
By Sawnie Morris

Sunlight Hardens on the Bed

In the next room,
handmade cabinets open, shut. A crashing sound
and the man’s voice calls out glass. Scalene, obtuse,
with a generous curve. Another woman’s voice
from the speaker-phone enters. They are stringed instruments,
so events happen quickly. The spatula scrapes against
the body of the skillet. The brain rewires itself
tonographically, as though just being someplace warmer
could change the music. Fire at will, he says,
when they return to the house on the mesa
in a sky like ice water, stars tinkling. Shards
reminiscent of sails, and he carries the broken
in a box alongside the kitchen island and out
the back door, its window tracked by drippings
summer oil left. Nothing to protect either of them
from the heart’s investment. Divested of all else,
what she learns will be survival
without guilt. What he learns will be startled
dependence on   the  not   mapped .
 

Inland See (II)
re: “Deepwater Horizon” catastrophic oil spill, June 2010 

Grandmothers scoop up a light-net,
haul pelican (in the spirit world) like fish—
and fish. Or net the sludge,
thick ooze, and how-to
staunch a puncture. (Sometimes
we must protect ourselves, we said of television,
internet.) Our fingers
over dinner, splay—were we? Eating a bird,
we become it.
 

And Afterward, to Eat Oranges 

—to dust off the dark spots of oil
and clean my face. 

A draft, sinewy and luminous
wraps across our vision.
In a haven of smoke, cars throttled past.
¡Qué silencio en las iglesias! Someone
on a phonograph plays the cymbals, tapping them lightly
as in a dream when you kiss me awake.

The clamoring of spirits springs up inside the piano.
What are we waiting for, those of us who hear?
Already a waif with torn clothes and a finger,
I want you like a tight fit, like a swallow under eaves.
 

A Sand Trail w/ Stone Walls & Configurations 

For a while I am walking along a path
next to a river. A sand trail
w/ stone walls & configurations.
I dream more prosaically at night
and for a while I am aware she is following.
Then she is no longer a poet, but a lion.

The house is bright and quiet when I wake,
and I hear water draining from the bath.
Some days I am a morning bedside chatterbox.
Others I am on my way south to see the
great whales. That’s the circumstance
in which she is at her best and most natural.

In a house made of wood, the main task
is making collages—she has a box-full,
though I think to myself, no thanks,
this life is not the circus for me.

At one point I go for a walk near the ocean.
At the stone dock a speed boat races past
and crashes into what is called a jetty.
I think surely there will be injuries and admit

there are moments I envy the alcoholics,
the way they do that disappearing act
into something else. A man shoots
a very old very loud gun in every
direction. It is a way of keeping time,
the equivalent of church bells.

She was so handsome I felt completely,
almost completely unworthy. And when she went
into the sand dunes and I heard a cry,
I was afraid. I raced to find her, but no
need to be distraught. She was content,
leaning against a large stone beside the river,
complicated, in the shade.
 

Excerpted from Her, Infinite by Sawnie Morris. Copyright © 2016 by Sawnie Morris. Excerpted by permission of New Issues Poetry & Prose. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.