All You Know
Over time you discover all you knowfits into a thimble. Over timeyou begin to see the follyof the vow, the well-made bed,you hear your motherall these years later saying notfor nothing in your ear. Where you beganyou end, silly girl, it isn't a mazebut a circle, over time you seewhat everyone first warned about,see they were right, the both / neitherof rumor, the spoken for,the compromised. Over timeit's as clear as a dragonfly in spring,as pollen from a ghost maple, birthdays,birth orders, the four corners of mostbut not all rooms. As the nose on your face,your mother again, reminding youto get out of bed—good morning,glory!—phrases that knit togetheras they spin apart. You remember,but over time you unknit, spend hourswoven by unseen hands, you can't believein the cloud, in worship or school-yard play.Over time what you learn fits on the pointof a needle, something requiringyour protection, recalling the blue warmthout of the body into common air.You can't be sure all of it won't go,everything you thought was true, the sweat [End Page 175] that gathered some eveningson your father's brow, what the worldknew of him, what went unnoticedor covered itself over on purpose—how can you tell the difference? A mannerof repose in all things, he taught you that,leaning back on the legs of a kitchen chair,catching the cinder-block wallwith the hard part of his skull, then easingonto the rounded cradle of the spine.And this image in which he still moves—isn't it good it stays, isn't ita miracle it holdsall you know? [End Page 176]
You Can the Hair (Pink Angels)
You can the hair of the painting pull, you mightits legs. Tender as in ——tender, pull as in one daybound to be some mended thing. You canmortar and pestle, a fine ground to work in later,cup full of shards: mica and cobalt, solitudefor a nightshade. You might a long secretof yourself make, experimental stuff, masterof gradation, prime ingredient. (Owing to his habitsof working sometimes for months, returningat a later date.) You can idea-baked-in, backwardinto grass, lint on the tongue. You canwork its legs around behind, no love lost!Make it what you want, torture's too stronga word, but it's as yours as the one you namedAttic because you can put anything in it, thatkind of logic. You can its lovely eyes the colorof a fresco in Pompeii. Later they'll be confused,they'll say ambivalent, impossible to interpret, but by thenyou're beyond explaining, forgetful, your armsfull of starfish. (A late picture of the masternear his house in _______.) But this is not that:here you're the man of the early studio where girlsknock on the door late, yell up no matter the hourfrom the dark street. And you, meticulous,concentrated, who knows what dream spells you,what future geometry grows native, what hearta feather keeps. And what have you to fear? (Youwill never but have imagined such a light.) [End Page 177]
Carol Ann Davis is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry; her poetry collections are Psalm and Atlas Hour. Recent work is forthcoming or just out in Volt, The American Poetry Review, and Image. Last year, after editing Crazyhorse for over a decade and directing the undergraduate program in creative writing at the College of Charleston, she joined the faculty of Fairfield University's MFA program.