[from Field, Number 69, Spring 2003]
The Marina, Early Evening
by Sarah Maclay
The sea is only a blue band,
reaching over its brother.
The sand is only a hard, brown sea.
Gulls open their beaks and nothing comes out.
One. Another. Three. The sea
is only a low cloud
wandering under its sister.
The cloud is only a high, gray sea.
The gulls seem to be praying.
They stand as still as a chess set.
Waves crawl onto the body, slither back.
Oh, the woman with red hair,
legs tall as stilts,
sings into the ocean.
Her song is only the mirror
of the broken wave.
Time and Space
by Linda Bierds
Deep space. The oblong, twinkleless stars
matte as wax pears. And the astronauts are losing heart,
the heady lisp of auricle and ventricle
fading to a whisper, as muscles shrink to infants’ hearts,
or the plum-shaped nubs of swans.
Atrophy, from time in space, even as the space in time
contracts. And how much safer it was —
ascension — at some earlier contraction, each flyer intact,
cupped by a room-size celestial globe
staked to a palace lawn. How much easier, to duck
with the doublets and powdered wigs
through the flap of a trap door and watch on a soot-stained
copper sky the painted constellations, or,
dead-center, a fist of shadowed earth dangling from a ribbon.
All systems go, of course: each moist,
diminishing heart, just sufficient at its terminus to fuel
the arm, the opening hand, to coax
to the lips a fig or pleated straw. Still, how much easier
to drift in a hollow globe, its perpetual
tallow-lit night, while outside with the mazes and spaniels
the day, like an onion, arced up in layers
to the dark heavens. How much safer to enter a time, a space,
when a swan might lift from a palace pond
to cross for an instant — above, below — its outstretched
Cygnus shape, just a membrane
and membrane away. A space in time when such accident
was prophecy, and such singular alignment —
carbon, shadow, membrane, flight — sufficient for the moment.