Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Three Poems by Linnea Harper


This potful of cactus
is a desert. It prickles
and blooms.
If you were here
you would be napping
in its shade,
covering your nose
with your sombrero.
Your fingers would be
picking perfect chords
the way they did
when you dozed off
and I ran four light
fingers down the full
length of your arm
and held them there
like strings
for you to play on.

While I’ve got you in this pot
I’d like to talk.
These indoor winds
are drying out my skin.
I feel the old scales falling
to the floor
and belly through them
limbering my cool reptilian

I leave a thinning trail
for you to follow when you
in case you’d care to strum
these desert bones.

A Grievance 

The heart stakes out its own metaphor:
Creaky timbers shore the entrance
to a shuttered mine.

The wood sings, it moans
as the delicate balance that has held
since the last seismic shift
slips, rips cell from cell
clean down the center lines
and the structure collapses.

This was the site of the portal
to a delicate rape:
You made false time.

I waited like the mine waits
for a shaft of light
and settled for the usual:
perfumed hair, silky smooth legs
and clean white sheets
that I twist in my sleep
into a shroud for anticipation.

Chilled, you say.  As in— somewhere between
five minutes in the fridge and packed in dry ice—
the right way to serve Chardonnay. Chilled, like
a gust of fog off  the ocean slapping you hard
at the edge of truth-- no hat, no mittens. As in,
I’m standing here wet and naked with no towel,
for Chrissake! Or, Keep that kidney on ice till we
land, doctor!  As in hung out, calmed down, or
frozen out of something you had hoped to warm to.
Chilled, you say, as if a personal climatological
data point could clarify as much as a good hard
swallow, or a cold crystal goblet whose wet lip
moans your song as my finger traces the rim.

Linnea Harper lives on a tidal slough on the Oregon coast, near the mouth of the Alsea River. Her poems have been published here and there, including in CALYX, and she has been a finalist for the Bunchgrass Prize. Before she was a poet, she was a social worker, and before she was a social worker, she was a poet.

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