Issue > Poetry
G.C. Waldrep

G.C. Waldrep

G. C. Waldrep is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (BOA Editions, 2011), in collaboration with John Gallaher. He teaches at Bucknell University.

Supernal Cusp

Spring is laying its flatware against the tablecloth of the night sky, moving each piece around as if this were a complex logic puzzle on a standardized test. River goes next to swallow. No, river goes next to meander-light, & swallow hovers above. No, swallow goes next to swallow, ad infinitum. With every combination spring adds another item to the table, another saucer, another fork, another floral centerpiece. This only makes the arrangement more complicated: sorrel & bloodroot, queues of ducklings, wake-robin & the subtle dance moves lichens fake against river rock & railway trestle. Infinite varieties of ice exist alongside an infinite variety of ice's absence, all at cross purposes with the sprig of pearling exactitude spring breaks against night's hard glass. Flocks of hands stitch & unstitch the more distant constellations even as the weather bustles so that not even spring is sure anymore just which story light is trying to tell. Grain elevator next to birdsong, oxygen next to hoarfrost & soft intimation of lilies on June ponds, blind & unsmirching. This is the banquet that consumes all its guests.

A Temperature Through Which Cold Barters

Imagine your breath as a small table on which is set a vial or ramekin of salt. Imagine that this salt is your wish for something to be led in, the children flush from the winter's cold and ready to sing for their grandparents, the Holstein with its hobbled leg and the butcher on call in the night with his large hands and sharp knives. Imagine one could trade the children for the butcher, or the bawling cow for the poinsettias that flock like red wool to the warm walls of the medical center, insensible to the boreal flesh of the apple you picked up outside, from the asphalt of the parking lot, wizened but whole, a tidy planet. Imagine this apple in your coat pocket thawing as the children sing, as the butcher removes his battered revolver from the black leather bag, as the small table your breath assembles trembles in the clearing of your throat, your body, the dim figures hidden in the sycamores beginning to climb down now, slowly, small radios clutched in their stained hands.

Systems Of Balance & Recognizance

But then there would be no need to bury the feather, would there? You could simply burn it, or lose it, or tear each tiny barb from the shaft and allow them to sift away like chaff from grain. You could offer it, as a gift, to the next child you encounter on the streets of a Midwestern town. You could wrap it carefully in folds of crimson silk and secret it into what had been your great-aunt's hope chest. You could trace its outline on paper. You could give it a name, like Wendy or Phil. You could gild it, or have it gilt. You could microwave it.  And when you left the house—in the morning, for work; in the afternoon; in the evening, say for a walk or even a date—it would not follow you.  It would not follow. You could leave it there, or anywhere, and it would not follow you at all.

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