Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2015  Vol. 14 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Sleeping in the Good Bed

The gate at the top of the hill swings creakily true,
but the meadow falls steeper and out from it

summer corn lifts, tassles hit knees as the horses
trot through, doves rise with a shuddery noise.

But this is not the right horse, he hardly startles.
And the lake where you once saw a black snake

has turned into the first wood, a stone pillar
marking the passage from home fields to far,

far away. Saw-toothed edges of beech overlap
and the path is lost—

fox teeth shining in the murk of a barn trough
until light lofts through crowns of white pine

and suddenly, you take heart,
sink heels into stirrups and gallop hard,

coat like a sail flapping. Then just like that
the landscape folds and stammers and tilts away.

Still you know this place
like the beauty of a face you haven’t seen in years,

childhood scent of a house near the water,
rap on the knocker, open the door, there

on the kitchen shelves: tea cups, oil paintings,
Persian plates side by side with the old china

like rhymes the mind remembers, oranges
and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s,

I owe you five farthings, say the bells
of St. Martin’s,and when the London fox calls

plaintive and sharp from Vauxhall,
idles on the garden wall a minute before leaping—

one continent steps stones to another,
and the fox stops to drink under the changed stars.  end  

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