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Allegro Poco a Poco, One Throne Magazine

"The Last Escape" by Robert Dowling Jr.
© Please do not reproduce without artist's permission.

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

into compost.


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.


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