17 January 2009

Lola Haskins

[from Lola Haskins's Hunger, Iowa, 1993]


The sky has fallen asleep over
Malham Tarn,
over the bare fields strewn with sheep,
over the bitten moors
where long-armed men passed stones up the steep
to set them one by one in walls,
while their hairy daughters crouched,
pounding grain with other stones,
by Malham Tarn where even then
the stars went in the day.
Here is the pay for long patience.
At the end of your thin line, something gleams.


The blank sockets of devilfish,
hung drying to the light, watch me
down the aisles of heavy papayas
like full breasts, follow me into
the tight hearts of onions, into
the mouths of ollas, with their damp
clay air. I rub them gone.
My view clears to the stripes
of a serape, braids itself down
the back of an old woman, who squats
behind red pots which nobody buys.
Her eyes, black as rain fallen
in a cenote, meet my eyes. My skin
rises. My brushes lift in their box.
I take her home, carry her, wrinkled
and light, over my threshold.
I buy all the red pots.

Hunger: Poems (The Edwin Ford Piper poetry award)

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