ISSUE EIGHT
August 1999

James McCorkle

James McCorkle   James McCorkle is a recipient of Fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation and the NEA. His poems have appeared in Boulevard, Manoa, Poetry, and Southwest Review; poems and essays are forthcoming from Colorado Review, Green Mountains Review, New England Review, Partisan Review and Postmodern Culture.

The Doorway    click to hear in real audio


Waking from sleep, the room is still
Dark, a cat sprawls between us.
Outside, the birds must have been singing
For hours as I remember them
Before our wedding, how they taper
Off after sunrise. Or perhaps that is
Only my inattention, the details
Of the day making their demands,
My no longer believing in signs
But rather symptoms, the past
Surfacing to undo the days ahead.

A door slammed shut in my body,
Then I heard a second one, and a third—
This must be how it is,
The routes emptying and the last one
Turning down the lights
Knowing those who might come later
Will know their way and not stay long.

In this darkness I felt myself rise,
The birds outside like bells in a temple—
For what else could that world be
Even in its own ravages—
And wake finding the mist rising
Off the lake like a sleeper's double
Restless in an old house.
The air, a sheet of blue-white light,
Unpopulated, held me a captive. 

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James McCorkle: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue EightThe Cortland Review