Apr/May 2008 Poetry Special Feature

Three Word Poems

by Antonia Clark

Widow's Weeds

Mornings, the widow sets the house to rights,
sweeps a feather duster over the maple dresser,
clatters his empty hangers and recalls
bare branches, bones.

She polishes her collection of grievances,
lines them up like figurines on the mantel,
each a familiar shape to hold onto,
to turn in her hands.

Behind closed doors, she keeps to her rounds,
holds her ground. Surely, he'd not want her
letting things go, as if all their years of strife
had meant nothing.


After This, You'll Never Be the Same

You'll shudder every time a knife slices through
pale fruit, avert your eyes from gray feathers

scattered beneath the maple. You'll spend days
arranging a collection of twigs and stones to ward

away toads, keep black widows from your door.
When the owl calls, you'll prepare yourself

for the screams of small prey under your window.
You'll keep one eye on the burning moon, one

on the hulking hills that crowd ever closer,
cutting off all means of escape.


Memory Like Light Through Maples

In sunlit commotion
my mother appears,
a flickering recollection,

coins of flung light
spangling the grass
beneath the maple

before history before
shape or seasons before
knowledge touched me

with its feathered wing,
taught me to name
wind and rustle

to see among the leaves
the iridescent flash
of the widow bird.

I want to gather
those scintillations,
recover what I once

knew. A preliterate
shimmer of gold foil,
airy art: her face

at summer's heart.


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