Amy E. Davis
Since the door is gone
the walls cannot shelter.
Let the roof
become a platform.
Where No Fish Swim
This is not what you think, at least not yet. It is not likely to describe
how the wind came up to corrugate the plane of the Pacific. Or how,
when water mirrors darkened clouds, it appears deep canyons reach
from deep to land. Long ago, I lived in an attic near a red stone cliff.
In summer, climbers filled its path. In winter, steam stretched
barely into radiators three flights above the boiler. Gloved,
wearing two pairs of heavy socks and a turquoise mohair quilt,
I typed on an old electric keyboard. This doesn’t mention that the sea
gets sprinkled with sailboats on the warmest days or note the pelicans
flying over the road miles south of where they roost. Or that gulls
sit atop buildings miles inland, where no fish swim. I hold an off-white
ocarina a friend lent me from his childhood. Made of clay, the color of fog,
its bright glazed dots sing of leaves and flowers. It has gentle tone.
The geese honked south last night, unseeable above the low
wet clouds. They sounded a deliberate flight path through the dark.
I didn’t suppose a small piped song would bring you to my mind. Leave me
wondering why. Asking what gulls might seek in town, so far past the strand.
Between the Bands
A tree stump, freshly cut,
stands five strides up the hill.
I want to count its rings,
but the core is hollow,
filling fast with newborn weeds.
Every half mile, the phone buzzes.
Rattlers have turned to bees.
I keep walking.
I am wearing the wrong shoes.
I stop to trace the pattern
of a red-tailed hawk,
wide white wings low
above the roadway.
My healing foot protests
with the timbre of the owl
that greets the coyotes
crossing to the park at dawn.
Before the boulevard turns fast,
they trot from urban foray
to a den within the disarray
that hems them in. But a hawk
travels far. As its wings’
black fringes draw a ragged edge
to the steady circle, I whisper
stretch the circumference
of your glide.
The median greenery that hides
its prey is narrow, squeezed by bands
of chasing cars. Why should it not
swing wide enough
to reach the nearby hills?
I remove a pebble wedged
against my heel, listen
to the tide too far for eye
or ear. Scan the sidewalk
for the shade of a standing tree.
I’m New York born but have spent most of my adult life in California. A historian as well as a poet, I have an AB from Cornell University and a PhD from Columbia University, and I have taught at UCLA and Purdue. My less poetic side has written on the politics of economic policy in the Kennedy administration. My poetry has been published in Crab Orchard Review, Tar River Poetry, Women’s Studies, and elsewhere