by Mary Crow



Automatic pilot:
I come to and wonder how I got
to Elizabeth Street, half way home.
I shrink my focus
till my attention is on the gear shift
as I shove it up a notch.


P. sat in the hard chair
watching her daughter put on the veil,
pinning the white frame into dark hair.
“Oh, God, is this all?”
she suddenly cried.


The clink of dishes being washed
drifts to the piano and she leans
into the keys and her scales,
playing louder and louder—
to wake her mother or herself?

She drifts on her white lake
of numbness, and the glassy water
slaps, slaps against the hull.


“. . . and reality develops
an invisible reality”
— Lyn Hejinian

Have I been reading all afternoon?
Outside it’s dusk
and the spruce is a black shape beyond the hedge.


I don’t want to live,
E said, I have wasted my life
in gossip and boring talk about children.

Rimbaud’s burning patience
is like the last train out.


So thin and straight-backed,
A tugs at her blue shawl,
glances distractedly about her.
G. will never become
the lifelong comfort she yearns for.


When I first moved to the country,
the neighbors said, Don’t plant trees
along the road; they’re going
to widen the highway.

Walking beside the row of trees,
S. laughed
and said, People dream
about the trees they never planted.

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