Issue 14

Poetry: Antonia Clark

Ode to What Settles

What settles is what stays

after the transience of houses,
after the horses and the boulders,

particles, dust and ash, leaves
and water after the wind’s ruffling.

The fog in the valley, mist on the pond.

What’s left when the rest has burned
or blown, what drifts toward twilight.

And after the chaos of yellow windows,
evening deep into the hills.

The silence when you open the door
to an empty sky, the sparrow on its branch.

Our rooms late in the day, creaking
and sighing, the rocker coming to rest

sediment in the bottle, the last
of the wine in the glass

our bodies gone quiet beneath the blanket,
lives into a pattern, knowledge into the bone.


What passes for plot is merely
an accrual of non sequiturs,
a scatter of snapshots: a woman
crying at her wedding, a riptide
in the bay, a battered copy
of Madame Bovary by the bed.

Effects slip free of causes as easily
as lovers slip away in the night.
A woman’s tears might as well be
brought on by rain, her fate
determined by constellations
of stars or starlings.

Endings, surprising but inevitable,
leave you with nothing
but retrospect—in which motives
suddenly clamor for attention:
why the groom always seemed
a little suspect, why you’ve avoided
the ocean for decades, why all
you recall, after taking an entire
summer to read the book,
is sex and poison.

Startled By My Reflection at Dusk

Afternoon draws its purse strings, turns
a cold shoulder. There’s nothing left to buy
and even the windows are dark.

On the corner, some kids kick at the slush,
their laughter dull and metallic, as if
they already know what’s coming.

Once, we thought the night was something
to disappear into. And then, we thought

we’d grow up to own it, wear it
like a black velvet coat.