Poetry | wisconsinacademy.org
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                        By age three everything’s in place.There’s a closet for storing languagewith all the nouns and verbs on hooks and hangersknowing their places, who comes first

I rummaged around in words all day,changing this one, discarding that one,snipping, pruning, and adding, a gardenerworking in a field of meaning flowers. 

You think the elements know the difference between the inanimate and us?

See through these words, colors,movements, measures   See firstgreen shoot, see roots taking hold

and up at the source, seefissure in the ground, seeclear cold water, a spring 

         I am lazing around, sharing my attic roomwith Cincinnati’s swelter and three more booksfrom the library—Girl of the Limberlost, Jo’s Boys,Dr. Doolittle—when the church bells begin to ring

One would expect gracklesor crows, purple necks stretched outin the backstreet gloom, flutteringfrom dumpster to chain-link fence.

In what seems another lifetime,I drove a bus for Greyhound.Riders weren’t allowed to talk to the driver,and I couldn’t talk to them—company rules—and I wasn’t allowed to look at a map,

tires screech; mother sleepsblood seeps from my forehead gashbroken windshield glassthen blue and red lights flashacross my mother who can’t walk the lineslap on the cuffs; clipped wings of a dove

          —Hyogo-ken, June 1991

I see youTrying to snip yourselfFree from the clash of fabric patternsOutsize the outline of your fierceand stunning soulCoast be not oceanEdge be not your end

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Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
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Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.733.6633 x25