Editor’s note: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of Dian Duchin Reed, the author of “Medusa Discovers Styling Gel” (Finishing Line Press, 2009). Recent poems appear in “Prairie Schooner,” “Poet Lore” and “Poetry East.” She has been the recipient of a Sundberg Family grant for literary criticism, the Mel Tuohey Award for writing excellence, and the Mary Lonnberg Smith Award in Poetry.
Not of disbelief, but animation,
like this dun-colored spider that’s been waiting—
pensive, anxious, oblivious?—
in the navel of an orange in the refrigerator
for a week. With only my own thirst
in mind, I brought down the knife
and the spider, stumbling in amazed relief
across the counter, re-entered
the scene of its sweet and humble life.
Meanwhile, it’s March, and delicate white petals
unfurl on the cherry tree outside.
Who wouldn’t want to stick around
until the fruit ripens, eager to enter
the mouth of the future, which always hangs open.
The meek can’t keep from oiling gears,
a ceaseless feat that amuses the proponents
of provocation, whose wheels were
clearly meant to squeak, like the teens
last night who filled the dark and carless
parking lot across the street
with screams of fuck you; no, fuck you,
their curses ping-ponging across hours
of howls, a stormy performance amplified
for their audience: neighbors and parents
and the teachers about to greet them
on the first day of school, which
happens to be today, and maybe
that’s the root of all the ruckus—
the dread déjà-vu of a rusty old trap
about to snap its jaws, implying
their legs are as good as shackled
already—nothing for them to do
but greet fate with a blare of rage
and alert the entire population of heaven
earth and hell that they don’t intend
to go down quietly, bringing to mind
Lucifer’s reaction to his own dizzying
descent, the kind of cosmic crash
that lovers of commotion might
consider dazzling, a word the meek
cache to praise the sun’s daily glissade
to music that’s so subtle, it’s silent.
The Map-Maker Muses
Eliza Colles (1776-1799) was the first
female map engraver in America.
Mornings, I wonder
if the earth isn’t a shadow
love has cast behind itself.
Above me, the thin place
hovers like a veil,
untraceable on any chart
produced by head, not heart.
Yet every map moves me
from metaphor to mystery,
my own town shrunk down
to a dot, all spheres turned to
a series of concentric circles.
Evenings, the swish and crash
of sea on shore reminds me
of cymbals, of the hopeless
hope of symbols. I need
no flowers, my only rose
the compass rose
in whose petalled points
I lose myself
to better show the way.