Poem of the Week

You know the clouds spread low

Joanna Klink

in Texas, the thick nights. Sidewalks as the dusk darkens,
              the highway’s streaking lights.

Some people are always in a hurry, beautifully—
              some stop to tilt their heads
              at a cloud or strange sound.

You know the way some people belong
              so much to one another
              they seem not to notice one another.

Even though I’d hardly noticed you
             I let my eyes be stopped by you.

What I felt in my hands was an easy fire, almost
              effortless. But what did I feel
              in my arms. Sun
                            rushing through weeds.

What cuts through your eyes are dry blues and sloping lines,
              like a woman’s back
              as she reaches for a glass of water.

You spend a morning before the canvas, casting space.

How have you reached this point in your life.

You live in a whole world, with a tangled garden
              and a sense of time.
              The hazards held a little at bay.

Sometimes you ask yourself questions you cannot
              answer. You dwell there too long.

You know some people seem to ask for nothing—
              not years, not even words. But they are asking.

Shadowless, your paintings tense with red, ghostlines of skin,
              a longing so spare I couldn’t
              imagine it ending. I would wrap
              a thin evening coat around my shoulders
              and step out with you
                             saying nothing.

The aquifer below us very still, the black trees
              in the park. Insects
              buzzing low to the ground.

To stand next to your body without puzzlement or distrust,
              smell of dry grass,
              the cells of daylight in a leaf, the drop
              of a hand—you brought your hand
                            to my face and grasped my neck,
              metallic—playful and senseless.

You know how things we didn’t bother to say
              have now taken up a space that extends
              out. The sun returns.

A jolt in the muscle, a loss,
              but you’ve been through it before.

Cool afternoons in October you spend by the window.
              Each unarrested
              habit. A faint splash of leaves.

And each nightlong hunger.

Each small song, whose darkness
               will one day be complete. 

Joanna Klink is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Nightfields. She teaches at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas.
Originally published:
June 29, 2022


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