A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
White cups floating above the waters in their cut-glass vase,
The tulips have finally opened, while beside her—
Pittsburgh, winter—windows shimmer with freezing rain.
It’s the morning after the reading and the poet is taking pains
To convey how words appear on her laptop screen,
Having crossed light years to get there. Or so it can seem.
Last night, light from the podium cast shadows up the strata
Of her face, her voice drifting outward, as it does now,
Tinged as if with smoke. The students want to know why,
But the poet knows only that she is her own Penelope
And the poem a solitude in which things can take place.
There is, she says, only the veto. The tulips are spotless,
Centerpieced before her, and whiter than the tablecloth,
Their every leaf, scape and cup-shaped blossom trademarked.
The poem, she is saying, has terms of its own.
Copyright 2017 Robert Gibb.
Robert Gibb has won a number of awards for his poetry including the National Poetry Series, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and most recently, the Marshhawk Poetry Prize for After, chosen by Mark Doty.