Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Engagement In Sunset Park


Our grief came from wanting to be whole.

We heard a bird, we became the bird--

angry wren, insidious thrush, gauche starling,

or just the whoosh of wings.

We thought ‘we became the bird’

and became that thought.

Not that we disappeared

into the city like mercury--

we were more like iron filings

drawn by an unknown magnet

always in the same lines of force.

We took off our clothes.

We became linen and corduroy.

We became the naked lover,

that sorrow, that delight--

We were the little pull

of the zipper, the resistance

of a snug button.

We tugged at the snap

and it was open--the gesture had no memory--

but we wanted to be single-pointed,

man or woman, infidel or worshiper. ,

temporary or eternal.

We wanted to be saints or traitors.

There were a million miracles, but what counted

was which wish was granted last.

So the great war began.


We woke after midnight,

it was snowing, we were almost married,

a car was passing with a loose muffler

dragging on the asphalt--we imagined

a little vine of sparks--

we thought ‘vanishing’--

a tongue of pale light licked the ceiling

and we dreamt we could feel the bombing.

Towards day we thought we heard the birds

crying for the cold.


We washed ourselves and became the lapping, the sheen,

the porous musty washcloth, minute clockwise whirlpool,

and whatever the water was missing.

Music was playing in another room,

unearthly music, and we assumed

we would become that loneliness.

And slowly we dressed, we sipped coffee,

we became the past, so did daylight,

the radio doled out news of massacres,

victory, surrender, truce,

a revolt crushed, breaking out again,

then that voice faded in the dim streets

where the steel-gated factory windows

blaze long after dawn.


We could freeze and thaw and melt each other,

petrify each other, make ourselves invisible,

inflate each other and retreat to the mind,

but we could not shrug, we could not amble

hand in hand down that path which slipped

through rye fields hemmed in by massive pines,

we could not warm a chestnut in our palms

to admire its flashing darkness, we could not

knock moss from stiles with a knobby stick

or enter the marriage house or read Genesis

under the shirred lampshade until the twilight

around us was impenetrable: we were absolute

and could not bargain, anymore than the thrush

singing its heart out in a sleeper’s mind.

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