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
Couple with Their Heads Full of Clouds
previously published in EcoTheo Review
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