Two poems by Elinor Hutton, third place winner,
The College Alumni Society Poetry Prizes, 2000


Michigan

Michigan is cold, and brisk,
and gray, for seven months
of the year at least.
There is little to do, the people
are the same, it is nowhere.
I do not think I would mind being there. It is
my religion right now.
I murmur to myself about it like prayers.
I could walk around, with friends who are like
the lost children with ex boyfriends
that were never created,
and in that way, they are
the most beautiful children, friends, I could
ever have. We would stay in during storms
that whiten the horizon to paste, or
go on cold walks in gusts of flurries
with boots and thick socks.
There would be such camaraderie because of
our lonely state.
The homeless people would be
lunatics of the tightening weather,
and would not realize
their life. I would be able to pity them,
horrible person that I am.
Because I still pity myself--
For wanting the anonymity of the University,
the low rising strip malls, the reliable cars,
the long exhausting drive with my father to Ann Arbor,
the holiday weekends spent there, too far to go home.
It is then that I would have to have faith,
faith cannot depend on proof. But in my dreams
the proof is perfect, clear or
even blanketing the earth,
plowed away in a Michigan morning.
Elsewhere, it lingers on edges of sidewalks
with the yellow piss of housebroken dogs.
The snow is amazing, convinced and complete.
Just eh easy expanse of Michigan,
miraculous and white.



Holiday, early fall.

My roomate's tea mug is left on our table
in the kitchen when no one is home
but me. It is a dark, long kitchen,
dim shafts of mid morning
light shaped like geometry,
and stains on the tablecloth
from the small sack of damp leaf crumbs:
sitting, oblique and folded at the waist.
She does not realize
that this is what she leaves behind;
Later I see her, outspoken and
excitable, and she sits me down and
tells me the story of the day.

When my boyfriend and I eat dinner, he winces
when the prongs of the fork scrape under
my front teeth. His manners are
still outspoken, they echo in the air for days,
a small reminder of my downward slope,
or the dip in my character,
but he knew I would like it here.
He smiles when I love the bright sample
he gives me to taste.

The phone rings and my father talks
about Gauguin, the ones we saw in the Musee D'Orsay,
the green tinted skin, the tilt of the head,
the stillness and posing, "Nevermore." I
remember. I imagine him sitting at his dark desk,
back slumped, gesturing unknowingly
with no one to react and mirror.

This day is stiff with religion. These small bites
each a life, a blessing,
perhaps. But it is not my god today,
the connection between myself and them
is hardly celestial, stretches so thin, it
snaps.