Fall 2004, Volume 22.1
Paulann Petersen's work has appeared in Poetry, The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Calyx, and the Internet's Poetry Daily. A collection of her poems, The Wild Awake, was published by Confluence Press in September of 2002. A volume of her poems about Turkey, Blood-Silk, is forthcoming from Quiet Lion Press. She serves on the board of Friends of William Stafford, organizing the January Stafford Birthday Events. See other poetry by Paulann Petersen in Weber Studies: Vol. 5.2, Vol. 11.3, Vol. 19.2, and Vol. 23.3. Visit Paulann's website at: https://www.paulann.net.
The earth flicks, twirls
the feathery torque of its growth.
Evened spaces fall down, shatter,
scatter away, the ratchet of birdsong
repleting. To then pause, repeat.
Passing through what might be
inclined to throw down a shadow,
light becomes wings so yellow
they're breathless, blades
so quick and thin they sing.
Air shimmies outward, gold shinnies
up the trees. A perfume brews
for drinking—long gulps,
deep drafts. Liquor of pollen,
ester of want and plenty.
The weighty, suffusing, never-to-be
satisfied. With vernal string
wafted from green, leaf-ladders
braid themselves up and into
the somewhere of blue.
Nor Physiology Alone
Not my face, its features,
imprint of smile or frown.
Not this brain toting
its bundle of laundry
aired on the line
of speculation and regret.
Not the rapid-firing
yes and no of what I know,
but the body of which
face and brain are only part.
One that knows in its
inarticulate parts how much
it owes to one
immensely larger. Worthy
of you, your largesse.
The universes within.
Great or Small
To live in your fine hodge-podge.
This soul of me alongside yours,
beside the soul of a rooftop's slant,
soul of angled rain that skitters down|
window panes. A crutch I tuck
under my arm's hollow
hobbles me along. An extra limb,
this dull gleam of leg is me.
Parts toward the one soul,
we cobble ourselves together by touch,
by need, by our craving to
walk this world.
Again, the Hand, Where Mind and Body Join
What moon has my lifted hand
circled in the hoop of finger and thumb—
the sign for perfection—
and not held? What stem of a daffodil in bud
has it pierced apart with thumb
and index nail, and then not grasped—with fingertips
wet by lymph falling in clear strings—
a star bursting?
To a goddess of uncountable beauty,
many hands are given, to a monster chained
beneath the ancients' earth, eight dozen more.
From someone blamed—the one merely human—
a hand can be taken back, severed away.
Little tool, heart's prehensile,
seize this world for me.