A Trellis in the Snow
The glacial snow smudging the plate
an opaque gray.
A mercurial bend
rising too soon from the spine
of a western mountain range.
The white bones swimming there,
laminated and reinforced with x-ray eyes.
Hold them awkward as plane wings
bolted and riveted into place,
or disk harrows in some farmer's field.
The pain there along the back,
turning on the cold table
for the gulp of x-ray.
And you, sitting there in the waiting room,
reading with your finger lapping at a page,
look outward from your article
to see the work
of seas and swamp vapors and dry land.
As if it was how protozoans
only hoped they would look.
Impossible to see
the cracks and fissures.
But what do we say?
We knew here in the vicinity of the upright
there would be trouble.
Old seers should have kept us on all fours.
But now my backbone imprinted on a plate
of sheet metal
to shake and tremble in the wind,
and you beside me,
holding my bones on your lap.
Teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul. She is the author of numerous books of prose and poetry, including Boom Town, Claiming Breath (which won an American Book Award), The Cold-And-Hunger Dance, Monkey Secret, Iron Woman, One Age in a Dream and others. Her newest collection of poetry is The Relief of America, which will be published in the spring of 2000 by Tia Chucha Press. She was recently awarded a Loft-McNight Artist Fellowship