Joanna Klink


I crossed the streets at five,
past the park, the wind knocking at swings.
Or I was unable to pass by—
children at the slides, a few dogs flying at sticks,
the murmur of a peace that is
constant in this world and impossible to keep.

I go on trying. I could call out or not.
I could try to stop their suffering
across those months or I could not. It kept on without me—
I made no mark, I saw no gate,
there were no clues no games no breeze.
I tried to drive into my skull some right
reprieve, and when I could not,
held on to sleep, I winced
and turned away, I let my heart
thin as it opened out, I went
again and again into the moods of late afternoons,
I walked through a recurrence of equal dusks,
admitting no other presence except for them
who were gone, my friends, I hoped
every hope for them and there was nothing
for that hope to catch on, I wondered
if there might, some hour, appear an element
to shelter and bring far into winter
such path-lights that do not tell you where to go
but nevertheless, against the blue night, burn.
I asked not how long but who am I
that walks in this direction. What then is mine.
These sore lungs, my bones
drifting out across the pavement
as if it could be made right by time
and voyaging—and the sky offer some sign
beyond its cloud-swept
motion—a pardon.

Please. Give us birds.
A light unto a world. An undistorted,
ancient ornament—some swift way
out of the earth.
Where the stones are laid.
Where we are laid.

The Dusks

As one thing is entrance unto another
the dark moon becomes new.
A sense of wind between trees,
a dense lace of frost holding the grass
back. If there are stars, they are lashed to clouds
that pass as slowly as thoughts above the pines,
   the highway, the shattered
hillsides. Dusk spread hours ago
as the air thinned, froze, as the invisible moon
   rose. Moon of battered moths.
Moon of chance bravery.
Moon of the hoped-for hollow throat.


For a long time I have loved them,
   their wages and ravages.
The dusks are tides unto evening.
They are blue snows to bristle and hard ground.
Winter-born even in the beaded summer minutes,
bafflements unto outline, shapeless weights
pushing the canyons into their original
   depths. For a long time by myself
as they lit with quiet the thick frost-
fields. In preparation of moons, in preparation of lanterns.
For a long time I kept their particular rivers close,
drawing into myself at the blurring hour,
the hour of wide blue drift.
And night eventually brings stillness,
which means tomorrow there is a chance
I might find myself
   less alone, or at least
more equal to the stiff branches of the maple,
   this dog loping past me.
More equal to the useless stars
above the meadow in darkness.
Wind of boats.
Wind of each black dawn.

As one thing is entrance unto another
the birch tree is a pleat, a curtain, a crop—
a cloud of thunder unwinding in dark silver,
leaving behind the day-ordered world, declaring
   This region you live in is more than yours
   More than what you have lost in your lifetime.
   More than you could ever hope to gain.


For a long time by myself, sleeping
and rising and falling into bed again, every hoped-for
chance encounter a dim reminder of my own
   compasslessness. Asleep
in the blue of ardor.
Asleep in greed. What will I gain.
What can the world do for me.

A feeling is a grave into which you sink,
forgetting it was ever a grave, forgetting even your own
   ill-equipped unhappiness.
And how could you be brought back
to the slow-flowing change— and how will you unfold again?
On the earth
into which you were set
   without understanding.
Alongside the farmlands reverting to marsh.
Alongside the birds. Who cannot travel
further north or higher up.