blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


PIVOT POINTS  |  Laura-Gray Street

Potters' Field

—a piece of ground reserved as a burial place for strangers and the friendless poor

Then the storm
furls like a snapped sheet, folds neat
into the eastern drawer,

and it's an evening for sunset collectors,
we like to say.

Sky deepens
from flush to muscadine
like the cherries, tree-ripened.

                                                                         Except where crows peck: pits dangle,
                                                                         withered stars on black stems.

Let us rehearse a lifetime’s
what we remember
folds straight-seamed with what we will;

what we will,
that white cotton, wears smooth with cleaning.

                                                                         We remember the blood that ran
                                                                         through the birds of our appendages.

So we tease thread
through cloth until it gives

into another stitch. Rise and fall,
pucker and smooth.

Thread knotted
like a branch of forsythia; thread knotted
like the lilac or buddelia.

Our necessary scraps and buttons.

                                                                         Only field stone and rotting log
                                                                         mark our shed snake-skins, dull scales,
                                                                         dark holes our mouths moved through.

But useless,
uprooting old losses. Let them lie,
numerous, anonymous,
as if they crept off this life when their shadows
shrank to toadstools at noon.

                                                                         Even here, engrossed in the remains
                                                                         of sun, barefoot, abstracted, disarrayed,
                                                                         you won’t see—
                                                                         We are the anthill's
                                                                         erratic swarming at your instep. We are
                                                                         the opportunistic weeds you pick:
                                                                         bindweed, loosestrife, alyssum.
                                                                         We are the ground wasps
                                                                         burrowing chambers in your shade.


 Potters' Field
   Disposable Goods

   Notes and Acknowledgments
   Levis Reading Loop