Four Poems

Lavinia Greenlaw

Minus Ten

The snow is blameless. It falls like someone
who cannot stop talking, in querulous drifts.
It covers the same ground we barely remember,
collects evidence wherever we slip.

Thaw turns to ice, freezing the surface
to a single assertion. We must break glass
with every step to reach a starting point.
And the children. What of the children?

Acquisitions

Henry Ford boasted
there would be no Egyptian mummies in his museum.

Everything we have is strictly American.
Steam engines, cars and guns

in answer to the amateur anthropologist’s
list of set questions:

Is bleeding, scarifying or cupping practised?
Is marriage by capture, exchange or purchase?

Hayseed

The city is baked and blown by incontinent, sudden weather.
The trees are luminous or racing. It changes,
it is not something we can predict.
The catch of pollen, ozone, exhaust in my throat

is unbreathable, secret, and for this same reason,
my tears are yellow and viscous, and cannot cool
the shot capillaries of my eyes. You are waiting to fly.
Even the airport has its airport gods. I pray

they urge you return to your lover. A princess,
it has been said, but one somewhat lacking in courage.
Whatever. My teeth in your shoulder, my salt on your fingers,
a hayseed in your heel ...

Trees in Nine Windows

They have us surrounded, drowned out by machinery:
the rasp and saw of cicadas, digital percussive frogs.

Birdsong is the languid creak of a stiff bicycle,
punctuated by a woodpecker’s pneumatic bursts.

From somewhere beyond the leaves comes the bleat of a drill.
Our radiators hiss as they digest the first heat of their season.