air's blade carved a space,
an encrypted journey, tethered,
a stringed body, whole,
as crisis deepened, water rallied,
tied to breath's strict map,
you had been falling,
an instrument of error:
you fell upwards into primacy,
as feathered cautions settled,
as you said "spent,"
as ice relinquished silhouettes
through wormholes of desire,
time's sutured notions of release
played on yellow-fingered sleep,
its storied grace and reliquary charms
Departure's girlfriend was seated at the table when you arrived. The hour tolled. The irises turned. Under the harp of the spider web, vines grew, luscious and conspicuous, in summer's brief notion, a small space in the blueness of the world, a scarf of no consequence shaken in the light of noon, a reason staunched by the bleeding hour, places you'd seen replaced by glittering eyes and slow speech. Nothing said that wasn't unclear. The cover of afternoon bleached the hours. Eyes closed to the view.
Maxine Chernoff is the author of 6 books of fiction and 16 books of poetry, most recently Camera (Subito) and Here (Counterpath). Winner of a 2013 NEA Fellowship in Poetry and the 2009 PEN Translation Award, she has been a Northern California Book Award finalist on three occasions. She chaired the Creative Writing Department at SFSU, where she still is a professor and with Paul Hoover edited the poetry journals OINK! and New American Writing. In 2016 she was a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.