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Work, and: Aubade, and: Sonnet with Horses Where the Turn Should Be
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Work

Some mornings, the clouds
settle rooftop low,
    holding us in place
like a specimen slide.

I spend my days
wondering how a hammer
    weighs the hand
that holds it,

or how the starlings apron
the stoplights
    at Alcatraz
and Adeline.

A glassworker told me once
that she could tell
    by the scars
who bandages their fingers

and who kisses closed
the wounds. I don’t
    know how
my father woke

hours before sunrise
each morning and worked
    until long past sunset.
Sleep was a country

to retire to, an Ecuador.
I live where the light is
    thin, and clothes us
like linen.

In the hills above town,
a black snake scrawls
    across the path
like a signature.

I still have countries
left to discover, and ballets
    of work
for my hands to learn.

Aubade

She was a girl, but more.
    More muscle, more heat,
more throat. In her hands,

    boys turned to birds,
and birds lost their wings.
    You could follow her home

by the trail of wings.
    They said her soul was thin
as an arrow and twice

    as sharp. Boys wrote her
songs full of lyrics like
    You make my heart

a Belgium when it ought
    to be a France, or
I’d eat a jar of rattlers

    if you said you’d be
my girl. One boy played
    the cello till he sawed

through the strings. Another
    wrote sonnets till his fingers
broke. We’d have ruined

    ourselves if she’d let us.
Because she was a girl,
    but closer. Her breath

felt closer, her voice
    sounded closer. At night,
when the dark lost

    the last of its velvet,
we thought of her,
    and we all grew closer.

Sonnet with Horses Where the Turn Should Be

I was afraid of my father. Each night,
he came home from work, set a Piels
on the desk, and paid bills as the dog slept
under his feet. My father—who never

hit me, nor ever raised his voice to me
more than once or twice, who never spared me
any affection—I feared him the way
I feared horses: their long muscles moving

like unsheathed swords, their eyes silver dollar–
sized wells of darkness. Something noble in
the face of a horse, Larry Levis wrote,
made it “incapable of treachery.”

My father had the look of a horse worked
years too long, laboring not to falter.

Ryan Teitman  

Ryan Teitman is the author of the poetry collection Litany for the City. His poems have appeared in Pleiades, Gulf Coast, and Ninth Letter. His awards include a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University.

Copyright © 2014 Louisiana State University Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Ryan Teitman. "Work, and: Aubade, and: Sonnet with Horses Where the Turn Should Be." Southern Review 50.2 (2014): 208-212. Project MUSE. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Teitman, R.(2014). Work, and: Aubade, and: Sonnet with Horses Where the Turn Should Be. Southern Review 50(2), 208-212. Louisiana State University Press. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
Ryan Teitman. "Work, and: Aubade, and: Sonnet with Horses Where the Turn Should Be." Southern Review 50, no. 2 (2014): 208-212. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed April 25, 2014).
TY - JOUR
T1 - Work, and: Aubade, and: Sonnet with Horses Where the Turn Should Be
A1 - Ryan Teitman
JF - Southern Review
VL - 50
IS - 2
SP - 208
EP - 212
PY - 2014
PB - Louisiana State University Press
SN - 2168-5541
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/southern_review/v050/50.2.teitman.html
N1 - Volume 50, Number 2, Spring 2014
ER -

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