Anne Colwells work has appeared in Midwest Quarterly Review, The Alsop Review, Southern Poetry Review, Dominion Review, Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Octavo and Eclectic Literary Forum. Eve Shelnutt's anthology, THE WRITER'S ROOM, has a chapter on her poems in it entitled Discovering the Voices of Biblical Women. Her manuscript, BELIEVING THEIR SHADOWS, was a finalist for the Brittingham Prize at the University of Wisconsin, the Anhinga Prize, the New Issues Poetry Prize, and the Quarterly Review of Literature (QRL) Poetry Series. Her book INSCRUTABLE HOUSES: METAPHORS OF THE BODY IN THE POEMS OF ELIZABETH BISHOP was published by the University of Alabama Press.
My father taught me Orions belt, the first of nights forms I could pick out, three stars, equidistant, aligned. An order. First you find order, then blur your eyes; the warrior steps out, Sirius and Procyon yelping as he strikes at Taurus, yearns toward the Pliedes, the remembered face, beautiful Merope. Cassiopoeia, sad Queen. Right ascension: one hour, Declination: sixty degrees. Best seen in November, A lopsided W. Chained, for her pride, as we all are maybe, to what she most loved, Shedir shines at her breast. The captain I love taught me she cried for men lost at sea, protected their reckless crossings. Every name has a story of love and loss, of vanity. Altair, Deneb, Vega, Polaris. Before first light, I set out to escape myself, my small sadness, but move beneath a storied sky. Gemini, Lynx, Castor, Pollox. From this overlook above the Cape, where Ursa major lumbers from the waves, I try to look Beyond constellations, and through, to jumble lines, to blink them clean. But there they are, Aquila, Pegasus, Cygnus, Draco. I want to unlearn the stars, to run beneath a wordless sky, as I am, my small light, meteoric, a sizzle and hiss overhead caught in the corner of an eye, gone before a voice can manage, There.
You once desired me to leave something for you in writing
Anne Bradstreet to her son Simon in the dedicatory letter
I think of Simon Bradstreet combing Meditations for an explanation that certainly isnt there of an arched eyebrow, or the story (told once, now hopelessly confused) of some uncles difficult horse, the aunt who embroidered the wedding dress. Divine and Moral: she tried to give all she knew, but it cant be enough. Children never ask the right questions, and, no matter what, whats left behind suffers in translation. Looking out the window, away from her spinning, in the last place she would live, if she thought of her other houses burning, thought to put something of her own journey down for him, it was more than most. Though, of course, wholly inadequate. When I was twelve or thirteen I found an old tape recorder, two reels spooling into each other: my grandfathers voice teaching me to say my alphabet at age three. Hearing it, my father stopped in the hallway, stood in the door, tilted his head. I know that look now. He was running the voice through the fine comb of intervening years. Then he turned and went on what he wanted to hear wasnt there. Simon Bradstreet must have shut that book once a year on some winter day, wishing shed lived just one more week, until hed thought to tell her the right things to say.
from Edward Hoppers painting, 11 AM, at the Hirshorn Gallery
Inside the frame is the room. Inside the room is the woman. Inside the woman is what you will insist is hope though you cannot see through the dark curtain of her hair to what you believe are soft eyes. The room is small, The woman naked, The chair she sits in blue as she hunches herself forward toward the light of midmorning that will not fall on her that insists it will not fall on her but stops instead at the window frame Refusing even to touch The painting above her head or the dresser or the toes of the sensible pumps She wears, still wears, maybe or wears already you cant know. And the dresser holds the clothes she has either just removed or is about to put on. But still you will say Hope Hopeful focused out the window to a street you imagine someone might be walking down any minute, someone who might Touch the soft breasts and lift that fall of dark hair to find the soft eyes you know you know are there. Only angels can touch such loneliness or the man beside me strong profile, compassionate hands But he shifts his gaze to another frame, angles his head away, And even if she insisted would not stay.
In a Mexican bar, in a strip mall by the highway Pennsylvania, early fall. Do you see where we are? Do you see the way the headlights read the other cars like Braille, like eyes searching a face? Im seventeen. Behind the strip mall is a thin, shabby stand of pines, behind that, track housing. Ive ordered my first margarita with my fake i.d. and I watch the glass sweat and lick thick salt from my fingers. I have not yet tasted carne adobado; that is coming. The night settles into the hills seeps down the river into the city. I havent slept with the beautiful boy who sits across from me dark hair and gold eyes. I havent smoked a cigarette or been to Spain or discovered that the soul can grow sick of itself and lonely for God. I havent been truly ashamed or lost anyone I loved. I havent yet lost anyone I love. All that is coming. The drink is sweet and salt, the frozen heat of tequila; it tastes like weeping. But I dont know this yet. In the Mexican bar, nothing is written. Anything could happen, anything As long as it is What did happen What is happening now What will happen the taste of the drink I havent had, the young girl I dont yet know.