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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 180-183

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Picnic on Blue Hill, and: Planting, and: The Secrets of Trees, and: Reading Between

Picnic on Blue Hill

You drive me to touch the hill,
make me see that blue
is how the sky holds green.

Finches carol on the tips
of tall pine, lilacs
inspire the air.

With you I mine my name.
I open and the wind splashes
sacrum, sternum, weightless

neck, lifted off
the ground, gold
flickering in the grass.

Everywhere light
so startlingly frank
our eyes clench shut.

What kisses feed
fills me
on your tongue. [End Page 180]


In the instant
that his pitchfork poised –
he imagined slipping out
of his body, scattering seeds
across the tipped fields,
flowing up the red steps
of his rainwashed porch
sinking into the swing
as it wound up, splashing
wind across his face,
trickling down his back
into the yard again, seeds
jumping through the sun
until at last and suddenly –
he sent the fork straight in.

The Secrets of Trees

The wig waits with the patience of a mushroom
while your scalp fights with your hair.
Only the tall oaks, braided and pocked, persist.
Reckless spendthrift, I count money on trees
and give myself to the barber's gossiping scissors;
you take poison to win your skirmish,
counting at each day's end a windfall of gratitude.
Still, the tall oaks that arch amidst the hickories – [End Page 181]
in one place two trees growing from the same roots,
two different trunks, nuance of bark and holes –
know how to brush without hurting the air.
How lonely the human head without hair to hold it,
how bereft the daughter without her mother to plait
her hair. Where is she? Here, weeping at the feet
of oaks, here, fistfuls of longing, her bouquet of hair.

Reading Between

The lines between my nose
and my lips deepen.

There is nothing I can do
about the truthfulness of lines.

These are not laugh lines.
It is cold today,

but it does not snow. My hair
is full of snow, which drives me

insane. And maniacal, wired,
won't begin to describe how I feel–

when I called myself a caged lion,
my father suggested I try roaring

– trapped, turning a century older
in a week's time, inside [End Page 182]

my same old body's mind.
I used to think my mind

was my one good bit,
the train that could, that could.

The lines between
my nose and lips deepen.

Yet this is no poem,
this is longing and snow.

Because the truth is that
all of my life I have

written poems just so
I could stop,

so that I could get all
the words out of me

so there could be only silence,
like the truth of the lines,

the lines that run
in parentheses from

either nostril
to the corners of my lips.

Elizabeth Rees is the author of Balancing China (Sow's Ear P) and Hard Characters (March Street P). She won Swink's 2005 prize in poetry, and her work appears in Agni, the Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.



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