"No Snake," reprinted by special permission of Annie Finch,
originally appeared in South Dakota Review.
"Running in Church," reprinted by special permission of Annie Finch,
originally appeared in Agni Review, reprinted in The Dark Horse.
"Zaraf's Star," reprinted by special permission of Annie Finch,
originally appeared in Telling the Barn Swallow: Essays and Poems on Maxine Kumin (editor, Emily Grosholz), University Press of New England
"Sapphics for Patience," reprinted by special permission of Annie Finch,
originally appeared in The Formalist and reprinted in A Formal Feeling Comes.
"Inside the Violets," reprinted by special permission of Annie Finch,
originally appeared in Southwest Review.
"Tribute," reprinted by special permission of Annie Finch,
originally appeared in Osiris, reprinted in Introduction to Poetry, edited by D. Gioia and X.J. Kennedy.
Annie Finch is highly regarded as an editor and critic, but we are about to be graced by the appearance of her first book of poetry, Eve, which will be released by Story Line Press in 1997. An essay by her appears elsewhere in this issue, but what follows is a selection of her poems, which have not only been published in some of the best journals in the U.S., but have drawn the attention of composers for obvious reasons. She has a lyric gift, expressed through formal prosody that does not restrict, but rather enhances, these pieces.
No Snakeby Annie Finch Copyright (c) by Annie Finch Inside my Eden I can find no snake. There's not one I could look to and believe, obey and then be ruined by and leave because of, bearing children and an ache. I circle down on Eden from above, searching the fields in solitude and love like a high hawk. She would never forsake this place that's made again of memory; she'd wait in that tree below me, spring out towards my growing shadow, let it bring a sudden hope that she could coil free; but she's not here. Only mountains that curve, and dip around the valley when I swerve, settle with dark heights, as I near the tree.
Running in Churchby Annie Finch Copyright (c) by Annie Finch for Marie Then, you were a hot-thinking, thin-lidded tinderbox. Losing your balance meant nothing at all. You would pour through the aisles in the highest cathedrals, careening deftly as patriarchs brooded. You made the long corridors ring, tintinnabular echoes exploring the pounded cold floor, forcing the walls to the truth of your progress: there was a person in this church's core. Past thick stained-glass colors wafted and swirling in pooled interludes that swung down from the rafters, cinnabar wounds threw light on your face, where the pliant young bones were dissolving in laughter.
Zaraf's Starby Annie Finch Copyright (c) by Annie Finch Walking changes as dusk starts to gather. We're not able or sure anymore. We don't know the path--and if we did know it, we wouldn't go on. We're afraid of the dark lowering its heavy, long familiarity down on the grass. We're afraid of the night, moonless, desert, California, making us stumble. We shouldn't be lost, out here like demons just at the border that touches us solid, as if we were gone. She's leading me on a path as narrow as sisters can share. We pound back down the mesa. Each of our feet finds its own way, delving into the gulley whose trees never answer until, with steps slapping soft as bandits, I slow on the path, imagining horses. Stretching necks right out of the stones, out of the dusk where dark has achieved our bodies, drawn by the strides that my sister takes like a rider, Zaraf's Star, Fashad, Kashmir, Arabian horses raise her up with motionless shadow so she can ride (like a rider, she walks), cantering, encompassing the pace of the mountain. Out in a landscape to curl or be curled in, hunched like riders or curling like rides, under the fairy-tale oaks of the mesa that hide sleeping children or horses inside, we talk about horses like hers who run carefully, with thinner ankles, and mustangs who, fast, wild grown, wild on the path to blackness, hunger like stars reaching down for dark leaves.
Sapphics for Patienceby Annie Finch Copyright (c) by Annie Finch Look there—something rests on your hand and even lingers, though the wind all around is asking it to leave you. Passing the windy passage, you have been chosen. Seed. Like dust or thistle it sits so lightly that your hand while holding the trust of silk gets gentle. Seed like hope has come, making stillness. Wish, in the quiet. If I stood there—stopped by a windy passage— staring at my hand—which is always open— hopeful, maybe, not to compel you, I'd wish only for patience.
Inside the Violetby Annie Finch Copyright (c) by Annie Finch Beside the long hedge on my parents' drive, where the gravel waited daily for their tires to crunch it open, in the narrow band of earth along the hedge that kept the loam's thick secret from the shifting sun, I knew a purple violet. It always grew there, hanging its knotty shoulders in the shade of large, more splendid leaves, its crumpled head releasing toward the earth. One day I crouched to find its eye much closer than before and stared inside. My own eye was lost in the echoing hold of the raw deep I saw, though my hands held back inside the driveway world that slowed its pulse around me as loud sun shattered all the gravel into shade and stroked the earth. The middle of the violet loomed; its heart was peeking into me to hold me like a violet, too. As its yellow, strong throat turned to me and opened like a door, interior light poured from a silent sun, flooding my face and choking my eyes, until I stopped looking in violets.
Tributeby Annie Finch Copyright (c) by Annie Finch "You'll find--it when you try to die--" --Emily Dickinson Of all the words that I can't live, I have elected hers to haunt me till my margins give around me, web and bone. Her voice has vanished through my own. She makes me like a stone the falling leaves will sink and stay not over, but upon.
A Formal Feeling Comes
edited by Annie Finch
Copyright (c) 1993 by Annie Finch
Story Line Press
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