Jan/Feb 2000 spotlight

Four Poems

by Jennifer Finstrom


Snow White

A girl in a glass
box, the death in her
so deep
it does not touch
the surface. Her
blood has paused,
but will not stop
its slow climb
through arms and throat.
She is safe here,
under the sky and trees,
held in her coffin
like a fresh corsage.

What has mattered
in her life has already
coursed away, hounds
pursuing something
gone to earth.

A man on a horse
rides into the forest.
He feels how the wood
is waiting, how its
growth has ceased.
He is not far
from the girl,
her memories pouring
out like water.
He is not far
from where he will
dismount and kneel,
this death to him
no more than
simple sleep.


The Only Memory I Have of Being Thin

For two days about ten years ago,
I was thinner than I have ever been.
I was barely alive.
The world could not contain me.

It was summer and my room
was hot. I napped, and between
napping, read. I can picture
the book beside me, a paperback

copy of Anna Karenina. The woman
on its cover was corseted and
shapely. She was wearing
a black dress decorated with lace

and looking over her shoulder.
My awareness rose and fell
like an underwater face. Sometimes
I knew that I was lying

flat and limp, but sometimes
I was standing in a crowd.
I carried a small red purse,
its strap wrapped twice

around my hand. Soon
I would be the first to see
what shook the ground and roared,
the hungry demon hooked

by the lodestar of my heart.


Poetry and Fingerpainting

My poems are becoming simple.
I hear the nouns line up, stamping
their many feet in the shadow
behind me. They are here and
uncomplicated. I have stars
and kings. A tall horse eager
to race. They want to do
the obvious things, to choose
the first verbs. They want to run
and rule, to flame location
in the sky. We are here, they say,
we are what we always are.
My hands drip primary colors
and the colors that between them
they create. These are first learned
and last forgotten. I am small
again and on my knees, painting
what I know is real. Green hill,
single tree. The rayed sun beaming
all the yellow in the world.


Cold Walk with Crows

The shadow attached
to my feet
belongs to a world

where nothing is solid.
It moves through
fences that

are wood or metal,
and are built
to keep things out.

A shadow crow
is flapping
on the ground. He

is flat and black,
from the sky.

He is following
where I walk,
as though my head

had wings.


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