"The Last Escape" by Robert Dowling Jr.
© Please do not reproduce without artist's permission.
ALLEGRO POCO A POCO
by Sarah Feldman
The first kernel of winter cold, and the old stove having given
up the ghost, I slept under a heap of blankets and dreamed I was crossing
a field in August, the sun full-on against a shadowless plain.
I was very tired, the field was tired, the uncut stalks bent double under
a late summer yield it seemed would go on and on,
exhausting us. The rows repeating themselves, and my mind
made up I would not find that one sheaf the sun fingers gold
from out of the rotting heap of last season’s extra, I walked on almost
untroubled until I came to the place where you waited, years
ago again, under the alders.
So that I could say we had been carried
all this way towards beginning only to re-enact
an ancient failure: geese breaking in an arrow for the far sky,
the smell of burning leaves, and my voice
that had gone on so long, mostly in complaint, breaking
exactly as before.
But as I looked, your body, that had filled my body
with such incredulous fire, changed to earth, and still I waited
uneasy in the still-green shade, wanting to know if you’d
touch me. And finally (it being a dream) you did, and I felt
nothing, then a great pity, which rose in me and broke
and became a great weight of peace, dragging us into the seedbed;
as if we were finally free to lie down here and sleep
summer and winter together to the end. But no, you would
touch me that once more, to show we weren’t yet
used up by that first fire, not completely – and touch, this time
so it burned, not with heat or cold but like a hand thrust deep
How can I say we are not given our full
measure of light, only because it does not release us
like these leaves? I woke, nerves stripped and singing
an old fight-or-flight, bright air surging
over me like a burst artery. As the first frost bloomed
on the windowpane, and a buried fire took
each tree from within.
Sarah Feldman is a dual Canadian/American citizen whose imaginative landscape draws on both coastal British Columbia and the Connecticut River Valley. Some of her poems appear in the anthology Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry, edited by Robyn Sarah.
"Allegro Poco a Poco" is the third in a triology of excerpts that One Throne has published from Feldman's forthcoming sequence, "Kore." The first appeared in our summer issue, and the second was published in fall.