In Their Own Words

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

All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

On "Aerial"

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.

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