Christina Pugh

The bank of cloud that night was like a smoother
lamb’s wool, a fistful you’d pull to stuff
a pointe shoe for ballet class. Or maybe the cloud
bank was more like the tiny cotton coverlet
in a costume jewelry gift box–the rough-cut layer
you lift to reveal the ring. But rather than acting
inert like jewels, the stars began to flee right
under and over the opacity, conserving a certain
dialect of flirt—almost the way Haider Ackermann
draped some spider web-ish filaments across his model’s
face and then fastened them with safety pins
all along the girl’s smoothly alternating thatches
of white and fuchsia hair. When photographed
from behind the scenes, the model looked
bushed, I have to say. Still, it was a privilege:
she passed for a ghost orchid. A syrinx,
with strings. This was on a Trocadero
runway in Paris, circa 2015—after the super
blood moon made its last earthly visit until 2033.
It was not exactly bloody, but La terre est bleue
comme une orange, as Eluard would say. In this case,
skies were black as an orange, or a peach
moon harboring illegible, gray characters south
of the huge, pale, scrolled cotton cloud curl
when I sat beside my husband and my friend,
the three of us staring at the sky charade
with all our legs pressed against the white rocks
bordering Lake Michigan, and half our neighbors
there too, with telescopes and phones. Don’t you
think the word beside says more about love
than almost anything else could? And safety pins?
They’re ammonite fossils of punk bands, strewn
throughout the landscape in our thrilling,
torn debris. So I’ll have to stay here
and make much ado. About everything.

Christina Pugh is the author of four books of poems, including Perception and Grains of the Voice. She was the recipient of a 2015–2016 Guggenheim fellowship in poetry, as well as fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Bogliasco Foundation. She is a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and consulting editor for Poetry.
Originally published:
July 1, 2018


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