Cover painting by Catherine Jennings/ www.csuchico.edu/~cjenning/
Among the reed spears just hatched
dragonflies burr the pond
in swipes of vermillion,
mountain-lake-blue, white with jet
with gold paisley camouflage.
Watching them dip and dart, vanish then appear
like tiny Christs playing at resurrection,
she listens to him get things off his chest.
There are too many gaps and lapses. Unmet
need sparks like a shorting circuit, ready
to flare up at the least encouraging breath
on the neck or tinder glance-eyes muted green
she imagines, like a tangle of twigs. It is both
plea and warning but she keeps still, unable
to find a word or gesture to cross
the prairie that has become their landscape,
fields like scorched cloth flowing between them.
The dragonflies, the damsels, their darning needle
bodies whip-stitching the air like fingers of flame,
recall to her Emerson standing in the cold
beside his neighbors, the Alcotts, the night
his house burned to the ground: Yes, yes, Louisa,
it's gone. But for now let's enjoy the blaze.
© 2002 Joanne Allred