Theory of Tides by Cherry Pickman

Winner of the 2012 PSA Chapbook Fellowship

Theory of Tides
by Cherry Pickman, selected and introduced by Lucia Perillo.

Edition: 500 Copies of the winning books were printed by Westcan Printing Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson.


I was charmed by the song of those lines when I first read them, but I was also piqued by the way they resisted me a little, until I realized that they kept giving me things every time I went back to them.

— Lucia Perillo

All Winter

Women are at their windows here for lack
of yards. In a harbor the wind drags bodies

of water to shallower places; swallows
form substitutes for clouds. Feathers, it seems,

make up the waves, the continuum of them,
and their fluttered movements you could almost

mistake for light. The lamp lights the room not without
difficulty; without warmth. I am this too, and only this

deficient. Mornings are straw-colored and arable
to wonder. I hope, in time, the spectrum isn't as important

as the one insistent and hard-ringing color. In our shadowed
and shaded walks I sometimes smell wild mint, its

disintegration or regeneration, and think, green. What other
reflex feigns false growth? Veins are estuaries

to the heart and nothing pools there but pushes
and pumps back into the available and intricate currents.

And yet all winter we follow the scattershot
wake of stones along the service road,

the cold around our throats so sharp so much
like fire; if you spoke, would your voice, however trackless,

trespass the lit distances of salt-hardened snow
to reach me; would I be whole enough to behold it, however

diminished. Women are at their windows here for lack
of better weather; whatever the witness bears she is

burdened by, however warmed. She sees you, in an effort
of tenderness, talking me through the cold; beyond that,

the harbor, the feathers laying down their flight.

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