Joanna Klink's "Aerial"
Scissors embers misnomers Are you this loneliness of hands Do you burrow past kindness Are you no less than a cell dividing no more than an arboretum Who has visited you Who has kept your dark eyes in thrall Is there a clear sound threading through What you want What you say What you do Do you know what you are losing when the dusk seals off the center of things in the parks Hour of dismissal Nobody stops to sit as they did during day I am listening to the peace that gathers in the husky throats of mourning doves the children with no need of goods They told us what our eyes feel being outside is enough The moon moves quickly The years could shut us out There is an ache in the lungs so deep it can't be heard A floating-inward rush of air Are you rosin wax Are you alizarin-crimson the spiraling glitters of pelicans over the cone marsh the threshold at which change becomes unstoppable We are traveling through the unmanifest dark and have only our skin to glide by I will vouch for you when you make a place for me in the city of soft gray-bodied trees If I have a wish it is to find you where I find poetry Do you ever close your eyes in full sunlight Here close your eyes You are everything that has not yet been lost
About the Poem
There was a small neighborhood park in Carroll Gardens where I would sit almost every day
after the weather turned warm. Most of the people who stopped in the park were there to simply
be: two-year-olds with their fatigue-ecstatic mothers, quorums of older news-bearing women, a
guy staring at the grass, patients from a nearby hospital who had been wheeled into scraps of
shade for an hour. I came to love this place. It wasn't all that lush or impressive, and around
noon it was often hard to find a free spot on a bench, but it felt like a reprieve from having to go
and to buy. And some tremor of appreciation was in the air—a beautiful spreading lightness.
People sitting alone, like me, were often comfortably lost in thought, or listening to the birds and
kids, closing their eyes in the sunlight. Once, at six o'clock, I went to the park and found no one—
just birds reeling around overhead.
This may be the closest I've come to writing a praise poem. I didn't intend to write one. Maybe
the scissors, rosin, and wax are in the poem because I was imagining what it would feel like to break
free, for a moment, from being material—a body stilled on a bench—and fly.
Joanna Klink is the author of three books of poetry, They Are Sleeping, Circadian, and Raptus
just out from Penguin books.. She is teaching at Harvard University.
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Poem reprinted with the permission of the author. All Rights Reserved.