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Sample Poems by Judith H.
The day before she turns five, Amy hears
the doctors speak of her galloping heart.
The stethoscope has pressed its hard, cold coin
into her chest. Air empties from the room.
When she is alone, she listens for the horse
that gallops in her ribs, for hoofbeats in her blood.
What she understands is this: tomorrow
they will sleep her, and peel apart the fence
against which the red stallion beats tattoo
and let him out. Then her heart will canter,
walk an ordinary, one-two gait.
But she wonders—will he run into the sky
without her? His wild mane tangle in clouds,
and his hooves spark a starfall beyond the moon?
She sees an empty saddle on his back.
When they open the gate to let him out
(this must be the secret), she will hold on—
she will gallop too.
The boy’s eyes glitter from the roof above.
His long shadow spills down the brick drop
and pools on concrete where his father—shaking
in thin sun that strikes the schoolyard clock—
takes two groaning steps, and stops. And pleads,
calling his fled child back from the brink
where love and gravity contend for thrall.
The gutter shudders underneath that weight
but, for this moment, holds the unfledged boy
at tip-point of flight—as though he could poise,
a high-wire artist lifted in bright lights
before riding the trapeze, arced above
the crowded dark, the unforgiving ring,
the safehold of the net. There is no net.
A swift darts through the vacant space that draws
this wingless boy to press intent against
the gravest verge: he steps beyond recall.
His father runs to try to break his fall.
Shuttered in, behind the chill
glass of winter, I
by April’s pulled pin,
her verdant explosions,
glory-burst that shatters
rime to green,
sleet cuff to leaf, ice
to lace transparency.
Beyond my window,
three copper beeches breech
buds in raku shine,
foil to robin cocking sunup,
breast and beak waked
by trillium’s cream trump.
Snow sheers to blossomdrift
as Daphne’s slow pink perfume
seeps beneath my ice-stubbed door,
soaking parched mouth,
March skin. The sky unseals
for April—sunrise tinting
apricot, vermilion, plum—
gift of Spring’s milk-generous hand
that next exacts the price
for pleasure: inches from my dazzled
eye, she slams into the sill
her sharp-shinned hawk—
glass-stopped, talons fixed
in one careless robin’s redder breast.
Hawk glares at me, and lifts the pierced
body. Wings to the dogwood
where his stash wrings offerings
into blossoms notched for sacrifice.
At Kitty Hawk, do you—Orville,
Wilbur (having tracked
the rise and glide
of osprey, hawk)—do you pause
in the leap from bicycle
to bird to flight
and let your salt gazes glaze,
let them drift beyond
beyond warp and span, camber,
steady wind and zephyr,
to the future?
Does one arc spark you to consider
how such a work first rising
at a place
whose name contains the hawk—
how your invention
might be used?
You answer from the dream: how
you’ll best Daedalus’
rise past the Montgolfiers’ balloon,
avoid Lilienthal’s spine-
how your work will free us all
from the confining bounds
to view our globe’s polymorphic
flow, to know how we are one
green world! Or,
suspended in your patent beds,
do you stare through the five-
barely catching this dim echo: ghost
of some radio transmission
back, say, fifty or one hundred years
to yours: 1903?
Do you cup an ear,
trying through cracked static to decode
the gist of payload—
Hiroshima, twin towers of New York,
the mosquito-droning air?
Do you flinch before
that faint din—
bombardment from winged ships
that heel these distant
Hornet, Skyhawk, Spirit,
astonishments of air that,
like everything human,
may be used
to save or sever, loosing blooms
of rescue parachutes, or
destroying fire? But the merciful
gods intervene: block
the ghost radio,
let you turn back in your bunks
to the possible:
of displacement, ratio of depth
and chord—so you may lie
on what must be the answer:
a new vertical rudder—
in that crackling November dawn,
of mere practical