Poem by Kathy Fagan
To begin with: the train and its trail of cloud: image and its aftermath:
the mind with its list of like this not that: patterns and parallels.
So when it apprehends the shallow grave, it might be seen as a sort of bath,
bath of discarded bouquets, majolica of silks on the day,
impossibly on the very day of--
different mountain, another continent, same snot-smeared infants and memorial
stones named for our bodies: some Mae, some Jane.
Math means first harvest; aftermath, a subsequent crop:
what grows in mown pastures.
Look at the meadow inflected by wind where the mower hasn’t been.
Look at the rubble—in our now common use of the word—of Aleppo.
The mind with its list. My before- and after- math anxiety,
words for me so easily inflected, numbers not: There is the meadow but
how many grasses? An estimated 15 million refugees
have drowned or been lost in the Mediterranean Sea. Original- or after- math:
even with perspective, can the brain apprehend
snow melt from the mountain top, a bath of bloat and teeth the color of rotting
lilies, rebar, and stone: some Amira, some Nour.
We switchback down the mountain like the train.
Clouds shear off above, while at eye level, turning like wheel spokes, parallel
rows lead the green words to our vanishing point.
Kathy Fagan’s fifth collection of poems is Sycamore (Milkweed Editions, 2017). Her first collection, The Raft, won the National Poetry Series; her second, MOVING & ST RAGE, won the Vassar Miller Poetry Prize. Recent work appears in Poetry, Numero Cinq, The New Republic, Blackbird, Crazyhorse and The Adroit Journal. Fagan directs the MFA Program at The Ohio State University and serves as Series Editor of the OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Poetry Prize.