Sarah Gridley


Inside is a museum of natural history whose walls are now and again transparent. An otter whips tight circles in her tank, confusing the sense of humors. Water sloshes the sides like joy, in turmoils of minute bubbles. Press a hand against the glass. To say live animals is to call up figures of those who are not. The expression wall to wall can mean radical, as well as comprehensive. A taxidermist works in the basement with meticulous ambiguity. There is the barn owl returning to the fullness of barn. And trays of glass or acrylic eyes.


You say to verify is when, by any means, you bring to light. I point to silver granules left behind on a tenable surface of then. You see silver in the word emulsion. I see a milky light, almonds crushed in water. You cross yourself and list in threes. I say grain inside and think whatever happens. Was it anonymity or truth or hope when early photographers wrote in place of signatures, Sol fecit: The sun made it. One seed, all its allied grasses. Brain before mind—someone conducts its restlessness in the low light between the singular and collective singular. Tell me the truth. Or say it is hidden. I said to soothe once meant to verify. You ask what is the negative. Is it love or music pulling whiskey from light. The one or the many things left on our tongues.


Through dust and dusk and words that fast in the dark between them, let a moon appear to lift us through the paths of interrealming stars. At Wolf Moon, moon after Yule, let the outworn habit shine like empty snakeskin. Cardea, keeper of hinges, show us the power to open what is shut; to shut what is open. Give us the howls inside the falls of snow, the tracks to thaw, the loosening ice and list of days, the rough caws, the worms and crows that turn and cross the earth, earth that knows or finds uncertain slopes to April, to the whole of Pink Moon, Egg Moon, rounded, to the ground phlox again coming wild—and alewives heading once again upstream.


Whistle of brittle humans, peacocks, and horses; I will listen. To storage organs, ballads and anchors, to gripping beasts and lowered gangplanks. Cut me a switch, writes the poet and walking-stick carver, to whip old ghosts through sunsets to the morning. Though May draws flowers from switching branches and sunset anneals the burial grounds. Though fall mashes apples, leaves, and stars. If you are afraid to go, if you are afraid to come. There is always Nemesis, evener of chance, older sister of anything that counts. It is her oil stone honing every wave. It is her garnets looming underground.

Excerpted from Loom.
Published by arrangement with Omnidawn Publishing. .

Sarah Gridley is the author of two books of poetry: Weather Eye Open (2005) and Green is the Orator (2010), both from the University of California Press. A new collection, Loom, will be published by Omnidawn in April 2013. She is an assistant professor of English at Case Western Reserve University.