Joanna Klink's "Aerial"



Scissors     embers       misnomers       Are you this
loneliness of hands      Do you burrow past kindness    
Are you no less than a cell dividing no more     than an arboretum    
Who has visited you    Who has kept your dark eyes in thrall    
Is there a clear sound     threading through      What you want               
What you say     What you do     Do you know what you are losing
when the dusk seals off the center of things    in the parks     
Hour of dismissal           Nobody stops to sit       as they did during day
I am listening     to the peace that gathers       in the husky throats of
mourning doves     the children     with no need of goods
They told us what our eyes feel     being outside is enough
The moon moves quickly     The years         could shut us out
There is an ache in the lungs     so deep        it can't be heard
A floating-inward     rush of air     Are you rosin     wax
Are you alizarin-crimson         the spiraling glitters of pelicans
over the cone marsh the threshold      at which change becomes
unstoppable     We are traveling     through the unmanifest dark
and have only our skin     to glide by     I will vouch for you
when you make a place for me     in the city of soft gray-bodied trees           
If I have a wish     it is to find you     where I find poetry
Do you ever     close your eyes in full sunlight     Here close your eyes          
You are everything      that has not yet been lost

About the Poem


There was a small neighborhood park in Carroll Gardens where I would sit almost every day
after the weather turned warm.  Most of the people who stopped in the park were there to simply
be:  two-year-olds with their fatigue-ecstatic mothers, quorums of older news-bearing women, a
guy staring at the grass, patients from a nearby hospital who had been wheeled into scraps of
shade for an hour.  I came to love this place.  It wasn't all that lush or impressive, and around
noon it was often hard to find a free spot on a bench, but it felt like a reprieve from having to go
and to buy.  And some tremor of appreciation was in the air—a beautiful spreading lightness.
People sitting alone, like me, were often comfortably lost in thought, or listening to the birds and
kids, closing their eyes in the sunlight.  Once, at six o'clock, I went to the park and found no one—
just birds reeling around overhead.

This may be the closest I've come to writing a praise poem.  I didn't intend to write one.  Maybe
the scissors, rosin, and wax are in the poem because I was imagining what it would feel like to break
free, for a moment, from being material—a body stilled on a bench—and fly.


Joanna Klink is the author of three books of poetry, They Are Sleeping, Circadian, and Raptus
just out from Penguin books..  She is teaching at Harvard University.

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Poem reprinted with the permission of the author. All Rights Reserved.




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