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without permission from Knot Magazine and the artists included. 

 

Oriana Ivy

 

 

AT THE END OF A RAINBOW

 

Close to the surface of a smooth lagoon, 

 

I saw the end of the rainbow: unraveling 

 

 

like strings of yarn, a shimmer so intense 

 

it hurt my eyes. And in the last inch: 

 

 

nothing. Not that I hoped to find 

 

a pot of gold — but wanted to believe 

 

 

in the soft returning dove, 

 

Noah pulling her in, her twiggy kiss. 

 

 

Nothing! — not a bridge between heaven 

 

and earth — a rainbow doesn’t touch the earth. 

 

 

Prayers don’t climb up, blessings do not 

 

shimmer down. Yet one time I walked behind 

 

 

my lover on a narrow path, thinking I had 

 

never asked for “handsome” —

 

 

not an athlete’s harmony of shoulders,

 

long limbs. And later in moon-dazzled dark,

 

 

I knew I had never asked for such mind, 

 

such spirals of whispered flight — 

 

 

like seeing an eagle glide by at eye level

 

when I stood in a high mountain pass,

 

 

so close I could almost touch the splendor. 

 

Not the nervous dance before the nothing 

 

 

at the end of a rainbow. Only mastery

 

and calm, as if to prove the real can surpass

 

 

mere faith. It can stride on water. Mate 

 

in the holy air. Die at peace, as an eagle flies.

WILD IRIS

 

Here’s what slipped into my heart:

 

that crested yellow tongue

 

 

down the runway of parched truth:

 

and those petals’ pulsing blue,

 

 

the excitable color of now:

 

like coming on a meadow of wild iris.

 

 

Long ago in dank woods,

 

I blundered on a dell

 

 

of lilies-of-the valley:

 

white lovers palm to palm

 

 

between leaves. That’s why God

 

must be forgiven, and why Dante puts

 

 

those who weep when they should

 

rejoice in a muddy pocket of hell

 

 

near the wood of suicides. After youth’s

 

‘love is pain’, that blue-purple flight.

 

 

On Non-Judgment Day, in the Valley

 

of Saved Moments,

 

 

I will bloom, the wildest iris.

 

Oriana Ivy was born in Poland and came to the United States when she was 17.

Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations from modern Polish poetry have been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry 1992, Nimrod, New Letters, The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior, Wisconsin Review, Prairie Schooner, Spoon River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies.

 

A former journalist and community college instructor, she teaches poetry workshops.

She lives in San Diego.

WORDS FOR SNOW

 

 

I begin to count the words for snow 

 

in the singing languages I know,

 

but can’t wade past the first one, 

 

 

śnieg — a grandmother word —

 

fairy tale of my life

 

with wolves in it. Tiny needles of fate

 

 

stitch my face, my eyes.

 

La neige, I think, and am saved — 

 

the way he could say 

 

 

Je t’aime, but never 

 

“I love you.” What he loved 

 

was the elegant scar

 

 

of my accent. He and I 

in the hollow of his car

talk without touching until I

 

 

whisper goodbye. I watch 

 

the ghost glide 

 

of my hand over his; he laces

 

 

his fingers with mine — 

 

We press into each other’s arms,

 

try to kiss, but cannot —

 

 

our lips will not stick, 

 

our mouths are too dry.

 

We let go in a darker dark, 

 

 

do not know who we are:

 

he the bridegroom of death, 

 

my miraculous error,

 

 

my own season in hell

 

I’ll walk out of — not his 

 

bride, but my own. 

 

*

 

If I were again in that car, 

 

again young and starved, 

 

could I say with an artist’s 

 

 

absolute, hardened heart: 

 

Go ahead, kill yourself,

 

make me a poet —

 

 

No — I want only 

 

that moment of failure,

 

letting go in a darker dark —

 

 

Grandmother, from frost-lily 

 

stars, teach me how to pray 

 

for the dead.

 

 

She answers, “Plant flowers.”