- Three Poems
The open door beckonsa way out or a way in
when all else seemsnarrowly walled and white
The open door is a framefor a painting, precisely
measured, carefully cut,handmade, man-made
with power to close offas a rope or an eye cordons
off or includes everythingpertinent to the scene
A clean aesthetic, simplyoffering what it offers
seeing what it seesand allows you to see
the river, the road,the long line of trees
behind which the soldiersstare, then languish [End Page 584]
You see them theretheir arms weary with
holding the gunswithholding their fire
You see them in the lightand think of them
at night, your soft gownblowing against you
as you sketch yourselfinto Life, entering
its scarred and beautiful bodyits wide and open eye
The old aunts are still standingin turn, backs to the fireplace,skirts lifted to warm their veiny legs.
Out on the front lawn, the crowscall to some distant power, plantingtheir crows’ feet in the grassy
crows’ paradise, green and wormy.The father is a boy still, slinginghis rifle, a toy still, over his soft
shoulder and heading into the woodswhere he’ll remain for years on end,forever seeking the slippery vagabondage [End Page 585]
of freedom, fine fall afternoonscrisping into chill, the winter just ahead.The mother is ever herself, at home
and alone, pots boiling overbut retrieved in time, her blue eyesbrimming a melancholy she can’t serve up.
Just overhead in the dining room: clouds.Just overheard, the old bickering,with its raised brows, burning words.
Someone abruptly pushes back a chair,rising from the table, a tearful tenwho won’t forget, ever, her heart
carving a question markat the end of every breath.
Roundness is all. Smooth surfaces,the fat ball you wrap your hand around,
that sleeps in your open palmuntil you decide what to do with it,
cars that curve and satisfy, lowto the ground, slick as river rocks
ahead on the road, which quietlypublishes its next move
so that you turn the vehicleas you turn the page [End Page 586]
or the potter’s wheel, embracingthe wet clay, shaping it your way.
The wild-haired Einstein told ushow space is curved, like a canopy,
how the apple doesn’t drop straightdown, but rather rolls down the slope
toward the spinning earth, a freefall that takes our breath away.
What he didn’t say was howcurves can please, how the whorl
of the shell and the full-term bellymesmerize, how we trace the arc
with our fingers, to be a part of it,as the soprano’s voice follows
the golden stream easily upcurrentand home again, resting in the sweet familiar,
while we, the clumsy, off-key children,climb the sides of the ropey hammock,
giggling and trying to hold on,to stay right-side-up,
the getting in and getting outour scariest maneuvers. [End Page 587]
Sarah Gordon’s poetry has appeared in a number of publications, including the Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry Review, Confrontation, Arts & Letters, and Christianity and Literature. Her collection, Distances, appeared from Brito & Lair in 1999. She is founding editor of the Flannery O’Connor Review and author of Flannery O’Connor: The Obedient Imagination (UGA Press, 2000) and A Literary Guide to Flannery O’Connor’s Georgia (UGA Press, 2008).