Stride Magazine -



What never stays, is composed
in thickness this winter. Vault
white flare, descends this late
evening, evenly in the bare
icicle of sleep that awaits the vapors

of awakening. No longer predisposed,
the lip of the open lake settles
under the violet trees –
instills the mean of spring
days, chances the non-existing.

Summer stands, juxtaposed
in a laugh, too slowly for its yearly yearn,
remembering how change is when
all time is time. The stitch of the momentary pulls
loose one glorified thread that rules

some great explosion, a metamorphosed
tug clawing the imagined
fall: to be dead at the dead wind?s hand,
and indistinguishable as indistinguishable trees against
the passive ever changing labor of thought.


Are the branches shifting dream
towards dreamer in a murmur
of command? Untouched,

no company defies
sleep. Below a colonnade,
I lie as form

under this ladder the eyes lift
after. The sky leaves,
as black tufts limb

long gestures. Crosshatched
cedar thins. Above,
a colony peeks

star whites out
from ruins. Clouded inkings
cross in eye?s obstruction:

the lull is pleasing.
Here, a mind could lose
all surface. The tree

bulges, tapers, fearing
what leaves might filter;
spirits, nonsensical

correspondence. There
in the birch, rings show
withstanding, dramas

demanding memories?
torso. A slant branches
over me – almost diagonal –

years from where I lay.
Constellations shadow whatever
loosens vision, suddenly.


Our vision is parallaxed. On that sphere
disguised, a profile enters with its own
device, mistrusting eyes that think of where
to spread star-lit landing. Ocean’s dew-dropped stones
scrape thin shadows, admire precision
as necessity. Hurrying, they circle,
exchange, split water?s undervisioned
multitude. Who can see their gorges swirl
beyond? Blue rooks shake drizzle and bring
continents, ideas that never seem
distant. Leaking light, is this oval thing
glistening a fleeting logic? Like dream
bubbles, place open the lash, no longer
swifting sleep without poignant wonder. 

          • Sophie Tolstoy

How awful to ache for old habits, habits that hook
perfection once surrendered when wed. 

A diary once again, begins me. Outside,
a world slants backwards, far past January

windows, crossing slumbered hills, pale sheeted,
a turn of body, awakening

the drowsed polar pavement. The bedding
rises flat, uninhibited

snow. Sprays of frost taper
ice cusps to houses, murmur, dull as diligence,

one-sided. And I am inside, watching. This
is a good time to begin

without motion or mourning
sickness, rapid blinkings made to break

the machine that warms and works, milks,
knits, and walks without thinking,

without looking, when one is quiet
at reading or cooking. But who am I

kidding. I am no writer. Just winter-
less applause, heavy under the lost

thumb of enthusiasm.
The stars, moon, sky, and sun all coincide.

Distractions yellowed with age,
multitudes. Our children flock and come to think

One ought to have something else
to love as well.
Thoughts I have,

and the means to contort
them. So very happy, am I

with cleverness. Not by my own
life grown tired with tenderness,

green with energy. Far from loveliness, I stand. Idle,
not by nature, under the somber order:

I am only as slow as the world
allows me to be
. I wish for meadows and noon, magnolia

abstractions that leave scent when they swelter.
A crow fissures my wanting

on the tree, branches my skirt. Two boughs
up, I defy attachments. Its veins have never felt

so contained. Patiently,
I fear my children will forget

their mother if I begin to think this way, his way,
in jealousy, loving more than myself.

I hear the world?s startled choir, bells affirming
sanctity. Tomorrow I’ll thank The Church

for my family. Oh, how I would love to believe
in them! Tumultuous anchors

husky and brazen as unkept men, resonating
homes, far-crested January seas that drench

small sleep, and bong
features flat as watercolor.

                   © Jessica Schneider 2002