A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Trucks on either side of us like fists, like cities.
Steep green against the highway. Cows
and caved-in, slat-gray shanties
Someone hung her voice up on a hook.
Willows dip their limbs in the shallows
Shall we gather, shall we gather, shall we
Blue cracks in the plaster sky and
everything opening along the road:
violets, trillium, azalea, the guts of deer
have become one.
I’m not in my body yet, she said. As if without skin, she said.
Not solid. Like
this, and she opened a book by a painter
who renders herself as skinless.
“How do I know I’m not a brain in a vat?” says the skeptic.
“Because I have two hands,” says the empiricist.
At the rest stop men are like trucks, their bulk set
smack in the center of the walk, enormous boots.
We have to cut among them their talk
washes us like exhaust fumes.
Transparent. Fizzing into halves. Made of thin stuff that
splits and unravels. Flaps.
So much darkness around it, so much mist. Night woods
thick with the wing song of insects. Wide bend
on a night with no moon, no wind. Surface disturbed,
rolled out the notes of its logic.
Red and the memory of red. Trans-parented.
“Because people stare at my breasts,” says the empiricist.
Some a’ that, piece a’ that, check that, hit that.
That skank. She could have refused those photos. Those poses.
She was smiling.
Why fight when you could leave your skin and watch
from a distance—the pressure cooked face, the antics
of the amped-up body—too ridiculous to fight.
The altered syntax of her limbs.
The fast water giveth and the fast water
spiral above the river
Rocks smooth as skin beneath the rapids
The highway climbs
between the old-god faces of blasted out rock
Trucks have a long blind spot Pass them fast.
Look downward, the valley breathes, languorous
The river’s a knife in its green sheath.
Copyright 2016 Barbara Edelman
Idaho’s Main Salmon River