by Michele Leggott


swimming in the black river a tale emerges

twists and turns about her sometimes urgent

sometimes mirror blank she doesn't play

lazy riverine thought the water lip laps

surfaces and resumes such talk along her flanks

that strength rules out as need walks in

riparian parties onto the wintery tombolo

river I put my trust in plum blossom words

dragged under leaving no language safe

from itself a girl going to meet her mother

is abducted marries death fixes destruction

in her own image the script has lashed her

to sufficiency and reticence those broken limbs

in the current she steps from wholly diffident


and with rescues to effect peachleaved nymph

sorrowing (are you sorrowing?) on the waters

bearing you to heaven's presumptuous grin

mock pusuits and marriage beds collapse tile letter

space where a diction hides her people bride fly out

of his hand who wades the Money Pool at sunset

and stumbles across the aporia at dawn singing

heaven is here in a kiss gifts of prophecy and hearing

pucker the valley of that leaf you copied

to the body in perpetuity your mouth is leaves

on his face nymphae peachleaf bride

of loops and costume change swirling cerulean

in the stream a blue lotus a white lotus vanishing

bride peachleaf nymphae your mouth leaves


his face a court of angels upriver

twelve dynasties east and drumming the morning star

into the arms of the sun your ha is an almond in flower

above the heart that hears his hu and is unbound

uproarious with aeons going past in a shout

a shimmy on the grape ropes a ripple up the pool

beholder to beggar to pleader please

walk with me here in the spring there is no foot

can be imagined without its wing no convention

without the literal honey the literal where

and when and how the literal sleeps as on a body

of water solely its coeval estimate of drift

Angelike where twelve twelves with wings

upraise another hungry drummer of spring


ah persienne the wind takes my breath away

I see it over the blue islands laughing like six children

looking out to sea their voices rise higher and higher

their mountain is the bellied sail taking them now

to meet everything that was wished in tile printed folds

rivers of air gardens of wind and the sea-going craft

drawn up near the place they have called Paradise

ah persienne breathless they reassign what is given

I was asleep dreaming in a dark place it pressed

on me and I was afraid the weeping dove was lost

to die sea roads (lie air gardens had forgotten her

deft play about the topsails it is recalled

by the high voices in their eagerness to be

embarked this dear morning into the outward


spray of blossom whiter than oceans

jumping together over the reef run wild

into the sea I go to libraries

because they are the ocean the spray of blossom

the is bending passion a wavecrest mountaineer

of the word and the body which reads Everest

floating like that like a summer's night resolved

a glitter in the long hazy dawn and dove

among the waves at last herself morning

and evening star but one body I not my eyes

reading day in day out the little distance

carried forward by the jacaranda in bloom

over the gate and the foot jubilant in kicking

its elemental doubts into the sky per se