Poems 2005



Zachary learns to swim

The ant, black as licorice, insists
the chair is his, roams up the legs
and arms as if the pool with its cool
blue depths wasn’t a foot away,
where the boy learns how water
can cup the torso, slide past hair
like a mini-ocean, not quite welcome,
not quite unfamiliar, but still
the absence of air,
how necessary it is to blow bubbles
through the nose, become a dolphin,
free with clicks and the fresh
jump into the deep
where water opens its mouth
and speaks.

First published in Nimrod, Awards 28 Issue, Fall/Winter 2006, Vol. 50, No. 1, October 2006.


How to photograph the heart

You remember how the lens squeezed
unimportant details into stillness:
the essential trail of rain down glass,
the plummet of autumn-dead leaves,
your grandfather’s last blink when
the breath moved on.
Your startled hands compressed
the shutter when you realized: this is it,
this is the last movement he will take
away from the silent fall of morphine,
beyond the soft gasp of the nurse,
past the sick, slow thud of your heart
moving in the luminous silence.

Appeared on The Guardian’s Poetry Workshop, December 2005 shortlist: Poems that tell a story.

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