Issue > Poetry
Page Hill Starzinger

Page Hill Starzinger

Page Hill Starzinger’s second poetry collection, Vortex Street, is forthcoming from Barrow Street Press. Her first book, Vestigial, selected by Lynn Emanuel as the winner of the Barrow Street Book Prize, was published in Fall 2013. Her chapbook, Unshelter, chosen by Mary Jo Bang as the winner of the Noemi contest was published in 2009. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Fence, West Branch, Pleiades, Volt, and others.

I Am


apparently lost
 at
             locating

             wherever
they expected I
would go;
I confuse
cardinal directions,
hardwood species, vegetation
zones, blooming
                         periods. . .
                     They rise and vanish in oblivious host.

                    Here is                              the question—
                 my question:                can I find the wet moss on granite
can I find the                                              scent of mountain
  ferns                                                          damp emerald
    luminous in the dark                              silvered dusk bird singing
      near the worn red barn                     while small pines frost shattered
                             gnarled                     slant into bedrock
                                     against hillocks?

          *

Humiliation
           is the Buddha's            first noble truth.

          *

After he was naked

and scorned,
Richard III—
buried under monastery, later municipal parking lot—
disappearing                none cares or knows
500 years.   Into the nothingness . . .
                    Into the living sea of waking dreams.
Roman nail
    lodging slowly
into his curving vertebrae. Grave
                       forsaken,

                     until now.

XX


Told to be self aware,
           Nice. What comes to mind
                        is flaw
    700 years old, it first meant flake
                of snow, spark
                              of fire, fragment
             gone astray.
On Facebook, men say it's ok
                                       to use our father's name
         but not our mother's—no way,
                          it brings us ridicule and embarrassment
and gradually over time her name is forgotten:
            only mother of the oldest son.
       Flake from some Low German fishing net.
Wattled hurdle.     Frame or
                            rack.          
And ethicists want to set up inherent limits
                            on how much humankind
                   should alter nature.  
                                     So we scramble after
                             Canada snow geese
                       during molting to harvest
      fallen feathers for
                                harpsichord quills.
Drifting through Earth's atmosphere
           scattering light
                           through imperfections:
                 small crystal facets
                      super-cooled,
                        complex,
               no two (isn't that nice) the same.

Vocal Balance


                     Did you know the earth hums?—
                as in a vibratory body responding    
                         in harmonic likeness. Perhaps
          because it expands and contracts slightly
            all the time or perhaps it's—just—the slap of ocean waves.
                                             We don't know
                                                         yet. Above me,
                 the sound of feet pacing
        on the ceiling—grey and sooty, overcast:
                 as if the inhabitant likes to swing a pendulum and has a plan.
                      Facing the mirror in front of me, seeing not myself but my
                  mother, a cellular song braiding and unwinding
             around a moment, this and many others.      
                                           Ensorcelling—as much about  
                                arrival, as anything else. As in
                   Old Occitan arribar (11th cent.),
                                language
         of troubadours.          E'sôrsəl.
                                 When John Cage visited
                   an anechoic chamber, he expected silence but heard two sounds,
         one high—his nervous system—and one low—
         his blood circulation. We are ambient, though:
               my spinal discs
            cantilevered, irregularly. I
      read that mountains are shaped as much by erosion—raindrops, even—as
             by tectonic plates. It is most certainly the end of something.
                                                Tell me, my
                                     matrilineal mitochondrial DNA: what
                                 are the stories embedded there? Is there a way
                                    to hear what's coming?—even
                                         the clef: the pitch
                                                                of the stave.

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