Nocturne Preceding Snow
Wind summons voices
out of the trees, then draws
all moonlight across the hills.
When evening empties
its pockets and paints
every element a different shade
of blue, I build an altar
inside your shadow until
our bodies river together—
iron and heat, bright passage of stars.
A Rabbit Runs Across My Grave
after Michael McGriff
At the end of one life, I disappear
inside a country with two skies—
I measure each day by the sun’s glare
roosting in windows, the hydrangeas
sold down the street. Evenings, I return
to myself, crossing bridges of light
while my image passes back
with the tide, a flower pressed
between dark pages of river and sky.
And do you feel it then, how my life
clarifies inside the hush
of rushing water, becomes the sound
of your breath rising in sleep:
acolyte of rain, priestess of night.
Pantomime Of Spring
I throw my voice into ditches
lined with crosses, empty tubs
of paint thinner, flower beds blooming
too early, and which will die too soon.
I throw my voice into this late hour
which makes a wick of each treetop
and leads a horse’s shadow across
the river’s lip. I throw it toward
whatever I love: muddy sky and rising pond.
Gallery of ancient fish. All the violets that will bloom
regardless. I throw it into the past until it rattles
among cemetery rows and unswept rooms
I know by heart. I think of god
coming down and want to be the echo
of each footfall. I throw my voice
to the end of my life and what comes back
is bird chatter, dog whimper, a bow drawn
across a cello’s neck. What comes back
is rain falling. An empty field.
November Spell II
Not even the hills could dream
of a season beyond this one,
but the day’s elements feed back
into the pond’s green mind
and recede with morning’s chill.
Like dove wings, already our time
is clipped: the sleep-faded sky
and its tapestry of light
shoulder the little garden
beyond our kitchen window
where, just now, the last flowers bow
and take the names of our dead.
ROB SHAPIRO received an MFA from the University of Virginia, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. His poetry has appeared in AGNI, New England Review, The Southern Review, Ecotone, Prairie Schooner, where his work received the Edward Stanley Award, and Narrative Magazine, where he won third place in the Below 30 Contest. He lives in New York City.