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Veronica Patterson


– for E

I love moments of half-dark before sunrise

as the year turns inward

the house with you asleep

and my hold rippling outward

to daughters in their places, sister,

brothers who began with me

drinking milk and running into the world

until night came with its Milky Way


and in the mountains six days ago

with my sister and one brother

I saw the Way again

and the Big Dipper on the horizon ready

to one day scoop us up

and I was—we were—shiny, and earth

turned beneath us, injured but just-then asleep,

dreaming Himalayas


and sometimes I know the other dark by

its scald in my throat, as when we just left

the hospital room where your brother lay, gauze

twisted high above his opened head,

a Trojan soldier crumpled after battle,

I murmured, go back in to him,

say good-bye before we leave—

and then you knew too and you did


From the Window at Dusk

I am not this silence

but in it I hear a strange cry

over and over. Below the window

I see a fox keening

I want to say— its cry

that of a child for its

lost mother. Then I see

a coyote pacing up and down

the lake shore at the end of the yard,

their movements parallel.

The fox the coyote might kill

deliberately draws its attention

but why? Is it distracting

the coyote from a den? What

rules that I don’t know apply?

Dusk is so lonely I’m lonely

in my deepest root.

When at last the coyote

disappears down the rip-rap

to the lake, the fox

slips behind a screen

of low spruce branches.

I stand and stand. Waiting

for my emptiness to speak.


Carried Away

Don’t brood.

There is a place

where morning light

knows the throats

of birds

and ten thousand

stirrings in the wood

pause for a bell

ringing in the distance.

Spend an hour gathering

new kindling—

the shadows of branches—

for a different fire.

No one’s counting

years. Or storms.

An empty gourd

floats down a sliver

of stream, a silvery

stream, a shivering

stream, and, at the last

minute, toss regrets

aboard, no—leave them

ashore. You leap!

The sky will come too.


Candelabra with Horses

– remembering Jim Doyle

Wild ducks

fly in every direction

as if a season were lost.

A vacancy

in the cliff dwelling,

an absence in me.

No death requires a coffin

yet ashes confuse the wind,

dry my tongue.

This poem is a postcard

from the dinosaur age

as I remember it.

Tyrannosaurus Rex,

what meteor struck?

I will remember you

each time I see

an orangeade stand

thatched with blackbirds.

Now come horses

shining and deliberate,

carrying candles.


Veronica Patterson’s poetry collections include How to Make a Terrarium (Cleveland State University); Swan, What Shores? (NYU Press Poetry Prize), Thresh & Hold (Gell Poetry Prize), & it had rained (CW Books), Sudden White Fan (Cherry Grove), and two chapbooks. She teaches creative writing and lives in Loveland, Colorado.


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