Midfire

Running through all those
days and nothing caught me
but the price of grain and
the odd book written or
burned. The weather was off.
Fruit trees bloomed in winter
and the locusts came, shedding wings
like angels. There were flames
in the sky and we lost
all urge to forecast. There was
no truth but that found
in the black belly of the streets
of the empty-throated town,
swallowing, swallowing. My lover
visited. Taking my arms he said
This is no apocalyptic dream.
But I knew that. I knew, too,
that there was much more we couldn't say
before he went east to exile
and did not return. He wore an
embroidered coat as he
waved out of the train, waved,
and our words were as little use
as locust wings. Planes
rode in like the times roaring,
each one a gasp from the mountains,
moving out of hearing to stumble
into the sea. I had a nightmare of ladders,
rising, then bursting into flame
and crumbling above me. And the dust
was thick as dew, grinding
into our skins like glass
and it shone. We had run out
of time and virtues,
as in a child's bad dreams
we have entered badly
like soldiers in hobnailed boots,
goose-stepping soldiers. We weren't
beginning and it wasn't
a dream, all sirens raising
the night and the sounds of engines
close by. We tried to
add it all up and got
merely sunrise. Try putting
that in a letter to someone
in exile. Try naming that.


Copyright © Neile Graham, 1994. All rights reserved.
Previously published in Spells for Clear Vision and Primavera.


Sample poems

From Blood Memory

(at The Alsop Review): Story 1 § Sleeping With Lambs § Furious § The Basement Exit § Paper Rock Scissors Stone Water Air § Storyteller Talking At The End of Her Days § You Designed the Map § Ravenous § Tuppence in Pocket § Sheela-na-Gig § A Course in Sadness

(here onsite): The Skin of our Teeth § Woman at the Edge of the World

From Spells for Clear Vision

My Grandmother's Photograph § Washing at Sunset § Midfire § Hero at the Gates of Hell

From Seven Robins

Heart of Stone § November Arrives on the Coast § Seven Robins § Sky is that Moment § St. Maudlin (La Folle)


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