The Baltimore Monet
The room a bridge for looking, this room a bridge to a peninsula of bridges, looked upon. * All nine bridges, all one bridge, join land to land separate river from smokestacked sky. * Here, the bridge smears into the smog parallel to a spray of sun. In the corner a bit of boat huffs back periwinkle, orchid, mauve. And the crew— they feel the gaze planting them in the water.
Have you ever seen giants— lakes of land between rivers—glittering? Seen them cast a nimbus into the night, each life a light pricked out by the cold angel of forgetting who darks the stars? Morning, bare problem, advances. Come down: the angel awaits. Wants to sting you too.
Field Notes: Worcester County, March
Primaveral, this cold. First and feral, driving inward. Ice flickers against road, reservoir, glacial boulders. Milks sound from stillness. Jays drive thinned squirrels from smothered gardens. Of coyotes or cardinals a stranger writes, Too cold to be screwing outside. But the saffron tongues of the crocuses cry out in ecstasy. Irises blue leaf litter for one day, two. Then, unshriven, shrivel. The hours change. The air is no longer a fillet knife slicing one breath from the next. And the days grow fresh onslaught. Cities lop limbs along each road. Mourning doves missile past the window. In its frame, a loop plays: canopy shivering, shuddering, then swaying as if to shake off cobweb clouds. Whole trees battered down. The sunlit scruff of each ragged stump a shock of newborn’s hair.
after Nextdoor alerts, 2021-22
(HAZARDIST WASTE) Bleeding heart, where is the spring? Just wanted help with relighting a small apple orchard. I want to give the hottest summer our well because I’ve never considered this cluster of dead bees a major weather event. (Brief grammar remainder: power outage puzzles deceased birds.) How much rain fell? I have somehow lost my amazing trash men. Anyone know of a deep sinkhole free to a good home? (VERY LARGE MOUSE ON THE LOOSE) Bobcat at the door, do you know this salamander? Humble question: any one missing? Sick raccoons anyone know this majestic owl? Serious question: who is missing? Pleasant bear do you know of any fox families? Simple question: are you missing? (I HAVE LOOKED UP) Sweet zuzu is missing. Why are all the sirens looking for a piano? Hideous cruelty so easily avoided is bearing down a suburban road. Child stealing our walkway, midnight. Massive police response: badass kids are you hoping for fire weather? Men suspiciously taking everyone who answered a close eye. Careful walkers wondering where we woke up this morning, let me tell you why public awareness is not enough: Dear neighbors, any good knife needs to get off.
CAROLYN OLIVER is the author of Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, 2022), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry. Carolyn’s poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, Cincinnati Review, Superstition Review, Shenandoah, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, Smartish Pace, DIALOGIST, and elsewhere. Her awards include the E. E. Cummings Prize from the NEPC, the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Writer’s Block Prize. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. (carolynoliver.net.)
Cover image by Adrian Huth.
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