I Ate My Mate, and: Children Visiting Hospice, and: Nothing Is the Most We Ever Know, and: Wax for the Sleigh Runners, and: Head of Steam, and: The Voyage of the Sentence Begins, and: Happy Birthday to You, You Live in a Zoo
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I Ate My Mate, and: Children Visiting Hospice, and: Nothing Is the Most We Ever Know, and: Wax for the Sleigh Runners, and: Head of Steam, and: The Voyage of the Sentence Begins, and: Happy Birthday to You, You Live in a Zoo
I Ate My Mate

In Memory, JTB

By the time you realize howI’ve shrunk enough that twobeetles shoulder to shoulderin the aisles of a cabbage leafcould give me the what-for

I’ll be aweigh on the swellsof night, galley engorgedwith slurpings, but light gettinglighter becomes the weightynature of an old dragon lady

whose spasms slather the skyas galaxies glide through my blackholes and I stretch to accepteach spurt of twinkling cloud. [End Page 144]

Michelle Boisseau

inline graphic“For a while now I’ve been playing around with scale, testing how the tight universe of the poem can shift us quickly through the micro and macro. Through the interplay of line and syntax, metaphor and sound, we can scoot, soar and plummet—the way with Google Earth we float above continents, enter the stars and then, with a quick scroll, we’re zooming in on our own gray roof among many gray roofs. It takes just another push of the imagination, a stride across a stanza break or the snap of a clause, and we can find ourselves tiny inside the tiny, walking the city of a cell. I’ve been reading, very casually, about the origin of and evolution of life on earth and speculations that the first cell, the first life, came from reactions between rocks and chemicals on seafloors of acid oceans. One evolutionary biologist has said recently about the origin of life: ‘The line between the quick and dead is a little fuzzy.’ This fuzziness of the line might look sharp from a distance or like a cloud up close.”

Michelle Boisseau received her second NEA poetry fellowship in 2010. A Sunday in God-Years, her fourth book of poems, was published by University of Arkansas Press 2009; the press also published her third book, Trembling Air, a PEN USA finalist, in 2003. Her textbook, Writing Poems (Longman), in its eighth edition, is coauthored with Hadara Bar-Nadav. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Recent work has appeared in Poetry, Yale Review, Cincinnati Review and Miramar.

Children Visiting Hospice

The shiny hallway is a riverthat asks to be skipped down.In the lounge, picture puzzles.

In a corner of the fish tanka treasure chest burbles and bores.The fish look ahead a few inches.

In the cave, under the shelf,we crouch, adjust the shades,and count. The queen is dying

and breakers swat the shore.The queen is dying and cliffsempty their towns into the sea.

The fish winnow grains of quartz.The shiny river is a hallwaythat asks to be skipped down. [End Page 145]

Michelle Boisseau

inline graphic“For a while now I’ve been playing around with scale, testing how the tight universe of the poem can shift us quickly through the micro and macro. Through the interplay of line and syntax, metaphor and sound, we can scoot, soar and plummet—the way with Google Earth we float above continents, enter the stars and then, with a quick scroll, we’re zooming in on our own gray roof among many gray roofs. It takes just another push of the imagination, a stride across a stanza break or the snap of a clause, and we can find ourselves tiny inside the tiny, walking the city of a cell. I’ve been reading, very casually, about the origin of and evolution of life on earth and speculations that the first cell, the first life, came from reactions between rocks and chemicals on seafloors of acid oceans. One evolutionary biologist has said recently about the origin of life: ‘The line between the quick and dead is a little fuzzy.’ This fuzziness of the line might look sharp from a distance or like a cloud...


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