Hannah VanderHart

What Escaped

previously published in American Poetry Journal

Not the pigs. Not the seventeen roosters

from the spring incubators. Not the hens


taken by farmyard parasites, fed on

electrolytes. Not the bantam, taken by


hawk. Little bird, feathers on its feet.

Not the eight African Grey geese, spread


like cotton pieces on the lawn after

the Jack Russells, who did escape. 


What do we farm but loss, and isn’t

this also an argument for denying


everything loved? Your brothers 

and sisters. Your parents. Better not


keep what you know will not escape

sorrow but will escape you, leave you


looking at a yard of white flowers:

fringed phacelia, appearing as a mist 


in spring.

Couple with Their Heads Full of Clouds

previously published in EcoTheo Review 

after Dali

Say table, and I’ll say bread. Say cup 

            and I’ll say wine and spoon. The 

                        communion of saints. Incline 


your head to me. The forgiveness of sins. 

            Love’s summit. Even an ocean 

                        and all its water, its etched waves, 


a distant second. The resurrection of the body. 

            Gather together at the day’s last meal. 

                        Climb to the mount ofthe disheveled 


tablecloth. The life everlasting. Clear 

            the dishes, sweep the crumbs to the ground 

                        with the side of your hand. 

Garden of Earthly Delights I

Sometimes you are the bristle-backed boar, teethed.

The hedge pigs follow your every hooved step.


The porcupine’s feathering quills bow to you.

Every leaf greener and more glistening.


And sometimes you are the blue berry, spiked

on the single horn of a fish. Or the little toad,


sans arms: its dancing feet. Alternately, you 

are the red bird, sitting on the branch, carried by 


a naked man astride a blue-winged griffin 

that carries a beast in its talons. The mountains and clouds


are blue behind you. The trees are jade and blooming.

Not a creature seems to know what is going on


but everyone is full of purpose. Desire bids some

go in packs and herds and some go singly. 

Garden of Earthly Delights II

And I became interested in blue, and pink. Blue like 

a berry where a face would be. Blue as the distant peaks. As

the fountains. Blue so blue you say “cerulean” and think

immediately of the ocean. Of halcyon lakes and the backs of

kingfishers. Blue as the inside of a mussel. Or as a person feels

inside a mussel, carried on the back of another person. Everyone

reaching for blackberries, which are blue. And pink: pink like God’s 

robes, talking to Adam and Eve below the pink fountain. Pink

tender as the soles of feet. As souls. The pink cow running

with the herd as though it belongs. Pink tints of angel wings in the sky.

Pink rocks. Pink protrusions and sculptures, flares, curls. Pink spiked

and petalled. Pink folds on the blue lap of the prince of hell. Creatures

pinking in the water, which is cerulean and azure against the coral 

and the rose. How he must have hovered over them. Pink

fascination, blue lingering. The heart, eye cannot look away.

Couple in a Floating Peach With an Egret

Sailing in a peach, there is nothing new 

under the heavens that Bosch did not paint 

in his garden: an ornate spray of flora

above the egret’s back. Grapes hang

clustered on the peach. Someone will eat 

them. On the other side of the peach’s curve,

a slit occurs in the velvet surface and 

a fine calf, ankle and foot escape

the nectared confines. Man and woman 

and egret make three, while man holds 

the stem of a colossal blue-blackberry

to the mouths of bathers. Each mouth 

opens to a glistening segment of the berry.

The couple in the peach are wise, or they

have had a fight. Maybe about the egret.

Still, they play the hosts, proffer the berry. 

Hannah VanderHart lives in Durham, North Carolina. She has her MFA from George Mason University, and is currently at Duke University writing her dissertation on gender and collaboration poetics in the seventeenth century. She has poems and reviews recently published and forthcoming at The McNeese Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Greensboro Review, American Poetry Review, The Indianapolis Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly and Poetry Northwest. More at: hannahvanderhart.comor