You start by thinking small
as a button.
And then resolve to attach it
to a pocket of a green dress
hanging from the slim frame of a girl
with sunkissed hair and
bluegrass eyes, swaying on the porch
to some soft music – the trill of a mandolin –
as you drive past,
through the late afternoon low country
of Louisiana’s Bayou LaCombe,
the smell of oil rigs burning offshore,
a goldpale haze wrapping itself
around the waist of a southern sky.
You’re thinking about scrapping the whole thing –
but instead, set it on the table,
walk around it for awhile.
After The Flood
After the flood, it didn’t matter;
our house, sea-born refuge for the wild,
our clothes floating in the fireplace –
a small scattering of islands –
and the last, old photos, peeled back,
their edges curling skyward.
We tried to keep
even the high water mark:
This room was once a cistern for the sea.
Friends kept trying to attach
our names to something new.
Hardly been used – this;
saw it and thought of you guys.
We were surprised –
How light kept attaching itself
to the sky! How stars kept piercing
the long night! How the placid Gulf,
green glistening on porcelain,
stunning itself and us,
after the flood,
Who needs the million lost
things traveling away
when the sky and the sea
again and again?
A Litany for St. Anthony
Bury the dead. Or let the dead do it, but let me go missing, miss the grave
discarded. Let me be disregarded. Turn your cheek, let your eye sweep over me.
Tend your thin plots, mementos, roadside flowers whose heads have dropped in pity.
Tend your large city’s bitter entries, the living that go on living –
but don’t want to.
I do. Leave me, love. Alone. See to those rock-tossed captives, mariners; see all
your fisherman hauls in, his nets cast wide as this firmament of fixed stars.
Dredge the beds and drag the floors, the bottom hour and back doors,
the faded scars of corner pockets, safe harbor for debris newfound.
Run aground, finally, the vessel,
a wreck in the wide sea.
See to the monks – their ascetic foolery and foolish hunger. Lend your hand
to expectant mothers, ships of ancient cargo returning to the mainland.
Tend the rows of stone, that dark field where we each eventually sleep and sleep,
an empty hull traveling below. Beneath what settles, the plea:
Leave me be. Leave me be. Leave me.
Go, see the poor, those starved fools who are yours! Harvest the field
for what falls. An entire orchard grown ripe and swollen – by chance, design, luck –
you choose, years of being passed over by hand or hoof or hound. Let the horses
do the work. Wild, let them charge the day, sleek musculature of thighs
pumping, pumping, covering ground –
only, not that ground. Tend your little seeds, hollowed out and quiet now,
hallowed sky above earth’s core beneath, the days upturned, a sheath of roots and stalks.
Let the mothers wail in new dirt, let their bellies bloom soon. See their mouths? Birds
in your nest, their hijacked hunger undertaking the sky, the sea,
and the green, green field far below.
Amber Clark is a graduate of The College of William and Mary and alum of The Radcliffe Publishing Institute at the Center for Advanced Study at Harvard. She also holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University at Charlotte. Amber currently teaches English and literature at Gulf Coast Community College. Most recently, her work can be found in Pebble Lake Review, SandScript, Slow Trains, Underground Window, andPoetry365.