December 6, 2012 / Creative Writing
In “Light Adaptation,” the poet Sarah Steinke offers images that evoke childhood fear and the darkness of memory while also leading into the freedom of revelation, of “everything visible” becoming “light.”
October 13, 2017
When this man executes an order, a river
dries. He signs papers and species
disappear. He tells a beautiful young soldier
to step into fire and he does. He does.
My fear of this man collects like water
behind a dam. It will never stop raining.
Some things it is impossible to say, even
in poetry. We are like rivers, silt
sifting on silt for years until we can’t
tell, beneath the layers, where
the sharp hurt began. So tell me,
how did this man learn to make
it throb again?
Why is it I cannot stop watching
his sleight of hand bleed green from
meadows, ruin streams?
I dream of trees
escaping across the plains, long necks
leaning into their gallop like giraffes.
They want to get away from him.
I tell them hurry, hurry. But there’s nowhere
to go. We have only the one earth.
Our backyard cardinal has buried
his bright song in his ribcage. The sun
has forgotten how to fit its beams
into the lock of human joy to turn it
open. In heaven, the Creator weeps.
Jeanne Murray Walker
Jeanne Murray Walker was born in Parkers Prairie, a village in northern Minnesota. She is the author of eight books of poetry including, most recently, Helping the Morning: New and Selected Poems from WordFarm Press. Her ninth book, Pilgrim, You Find the Path by Walking, will be out in 2018. Walker is also a mentor in the Seattle Pacific University low residency MFA Program, and she works in the Food Cupboard at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia and travels widely to give readings and run workshops.