Sally Rosen Kindred
At some point you have to rise
from the safe stink of flesh and feathered straw,
from the thick panting press of the underdark,
and you have to climb the steps
of cypress and cedar bark
hewn from the old home trees
and find the water, the broken world,
the wet mud-and-milk gut of the earth
risen and spilled over what you remember
and wolf-colored waves gaping and turning
under winds gray as the death-coat
someone's thrown over the moon.
And you have to wonder
at the shudder of the world's wet flesh,
at the way water over the earth
moves like the skin that covers the throat
when a parched body swallows.
And then what? Then what? What
do you do with your arms
beneath a God gone this wrong?
How do you walk back down
to your wife, to your sisters and brothers,
and to the ones that once crept upon the earth
and the ones that howled and scratched its dense mudmouth
and what do you say you've seen?
Look at them before you speak.
See their ragged lips, their holy thirst.
Do not speak of covenants
or gifts made out of sky.
Look at what survives the journey
into broken weather, broken story:
look at each face and into the wilderness eyes
and across the teeth and down to the hands
of your own righteous hungry people and ask them
to lift the garnet lanterns
and lead you all the way back up into this world.
SALLY ROSEN KINDRED is a native of Greensboro, NC. She holds an MFA from the University of Maryland, and for the past seven years she has taught creative writing on-line through the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including Poetry Northwest, Spoon River Poetry Review, Poet Lore, The Florida Review, Earth's Daughters, and Runes, A Review of Poetry. This is her first book of poetry.
"To Noah" was first published in The Florida Review 30.2 (Fall 2005).
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last updated 8 February 2015