Alice Jones and Jeffrey Franklin

Winner of the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award in 2001


by Alice Jones

I'll tell you sometime when we're vis à vis about the ease of memorizing dynasties, how Tang, the apogee, floats into Sung, the pedigrees of poets, those liquid trees in scrolls, eerie in the fog, or snow covered bamboo teasing us with thoughts of Spring. We're on our knees trying to take in time, wider than Lake Erie; you sneezed, we tried to squeeze it, don't believe it, my freezing carp of the day.

* * *

Boundaries of Seeing

by Jeffrey Franklin

The temptation is to watch the clouds,
swollen with moonlight, drift
across the night sky, a migrating
Herd of leviathans, but if
you lie spread open on the earth
long enough and focus
between them, you may see
the clouds slow, the obsidian
depth behind them ease
into motion, and sense yourself,
in a parallel gesture, begin
to accelerate, until like
the twin runners of a dogsled,
you and the night sky
are reeling along the luminous track

of frozen cloud. Once,
white men trundled a projector
over the tundra, as only
white men would do,
and splashed a movie across
the igloo's breath-sheened wall:
black-and-white people raced
to and fro, making
overblown gestures to make up
for the lack of sound. What
did they see, the Eskimos,
polite enough to feign a chuckle
when the visitors slapped their knees
and, when the film came
flapping to a halt, to praise
the shifting abstract patterns,
how with such slow grace
they drifted and swam
across the igloo's starry dome
like the breath of the Aurora,
they said,
in the cupped hands of the night sky.

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