I love bumping up against new-to-me poets in the Cincinnati area, and being knocked off my feet by the poems they write. Here are just two examples, Sara Moore Wagner, who lives in West Chester and teaches at Xavier and Northern Kentucky University (and whom I have met only through her poems) and Caroline Plasket of Erlanger, whom I met at February’s Writers Resist Open Mic. There is something about their poems that belong together. Perhaps it is the way in which the speakers acknowledge their own place in , to quote Mary Oliver, “the family of things.”
I Have No Love for Images
I’ve given up on the idea that a man
can crocus out of the earth all hair,
even his feet covered with hair, out of the earth
like a swollen root, his hands as soft and full
as berries. Because I am not
a tamer, but a shivering vine
and I also come
from this gorged stem, fruit
and not harvester. Forget
me for a second, you have given
up on this man out
of the ground because he is not
Adam but a fleshy bit of death,
and when he does get sick
and naked, when
he throws a bleeding thigh
so near the sun it hots
and smells like meat
your mother boiled down so low
it turned to dust. This thigh he cuts
from a living bull: from your sacred
body—if you want to know,
I’ve been searching for him, too—
I want to eat the stone bread
which stands for days, which stands for God,
to not sleep like a snake in a pile
of filth, to feed myself on air and the prettiest
slivers of sky. To be made
an equivalent beauty, or else
to not die is what I mean.
When he and I embrace each night on a forged promise of forever,
I offer my body: almost as his own
but never even mine, really.
It is there in my bones, where the love settles.
We are the found bird nest that sat on the porch table to be admired
until the cats knocked it off to become a pile of dirt, straw,
and broken shell—jagged blue pieces of a puzzle undone,
to be swept back onto the earth beyond the porch.
The same cats catch cicadas and bring them to the front door.
An offering of broken wings. A death,
while thousands of cicadas in the trees sing the song of living.
I glue a separated wing to a picture and cover it with shellac.
It is timeless there
but can’t fly.
Our children sit around the table each night
where we lay food in front of them,
our offering; a wing of love
ripped from somewhere.
It all becomes timeless in their bones.
One day the children can sprinkle this as ash over the world.
First published in The Tishman Review