The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 19-JAN 20

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DEC 19-JAN 20 Issue


Fragment : Stone

       For Fia

You could walk not far through the grass to the shed barefoot
Restless eye landing on distance there not far you could walk
Looking down at various grasses weeds clover along the way
Your toes in the green the undersides of your feet the cool damp
Where is significance you think as you imagine walking across
Grass to the shed barefoot what counts here does anything count
On the short walk while looking down and then over then up
At the catbird in the lilac where there are now dry brown sprays
At the robin hopping in the grass over there what counts you ask
Incredulous at the pace not your pace the pace of time as if
Rolling downhill gathering speed wound around
Itself like giant twine or giant hay but invisible so not present
In the sense of seen the way you assign to the visible presence
Even as much on your mind as you walk across the grass toward
The shed is invisible names their persons hunger mistakes
The lost and the recently slaughtered because of words
Believed by the hopeless lost from view tossed
Into the past like a weed a rind a stone found in grass
So find solace in the particular single crow high in the dead ash
Its one-note cry sky pale blue low light sliding across wires.


Project stalled in the guilt path no rescue no easy Egypt
surmounts the cascade mounting mourning
and the ricochet romance made white again, bleached
on the beach, thrown by the percussive wave, and now too
old to alter the snail pace up the dune into the grass
where once only once some secret glass was found and
transcribed across the boundaries of good ----

                     That there is no
ether wind,

       least of all she cannot be heard over the din,

and the secret filters out into the empirical dust to prove something
no one knows.

         The treasures of sunset are many, various and common.
As if light itself were material, folding and unfolding itself.

The suffocating bird.
The marble cylinders.
The descending mercury.

And so in all languages, a ghost speaking for the trepidation of the chorus, wishing
To be considerate of normal, ordinary procedures; consequence brooding overhead.

The fence christened by light.

It should not be crowded; she should not cry; it did not last.
The dream dried her tongue and so the story became a blur,
after the vision of lovers embracing in the distance
and a blue field bending in wind. There were wild unnamed

flowers bending in the wind.

She would wake to the scent of salty air. She had searched for a tune before sex.

A wolf and a fox emerge from Milton’s tree perched on the mantel.
Later, or further on, an Italian girl reaches, and an angel descends.
Under the bridge, a silver whale smiles eternally. It is winter there.
Later, or further on, it is spring and Eros comforts Psyche.

Distracted, she cast her eyes over to the bookcase, then out onto the
Weeping willow seen between the branches of the maple.
Above, wires slung in duplicate, like tracks, cutting across sightlines.
A little patch of sky is visible, not a painting, not intentional.

What am I doing in these dreary quatrains? It is far too
Late for quatrains, even as the word is pleasurable,
With its qua and its trains. I took a train recently, from
There to here, along the river, toward evening. Toward

Evening, detached as a question.


Ann Lauterbach

Ann Lauterbach’s eleventh collection of poems, Door, will be published in spring 2023. A recipient of Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, she teaches at Bard College.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 19-JAN 20

All Issues