What does the grave say?

posted Mar 1, 2011

What does the grave say? My gates are all caves.
- Theodore Roethke

What does the cave save? Small bones to make its teeth.
Where do their ghosts sleep? In a bowl of feathered rest.
What bird flies best? The one with his long throat open.
Has the sky spoken? No, it sings, it weeps.
What does the rain complete? The valley's cupped hand.
Does this chasm demand? Yes, your dawn and dreams that fell.
Will this morning swell? It breaks against the trees.
Can the forest breathe? It unfurls a high green lung.
Are its roots unsung? They hum and suck, they chant.
Do its twigs want banter? Just the light laughter of birds.
Is this what the deer heard? That, and horse's hooves.
Does the horse know truths? He bears a girl the leaves long to kiss.
Will they bend and miss? She gallops too fast, they sigh.
Do her hands clutch the bridle? She falls while her teacher drinks.
Is his heart sinking? He takes his pen to lift its tendons.
Will she go unmentioned? We will love her better in his memory.

My sparrow, you are not here.
- Theodore Roethke

Jennifer Borges Foster is a poet, bookmaker, and the editor of Filter, a hand bound limited edition literary journal. She is the recent recipient of grants from Art Patch, 4Culture, and the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and was short-listed for The Stranger’s 2007 Genius Award in literature. Her poems have appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, ZYZZYVA, and other journals.

Foster’s poem “Chance, Chant, Chain” also appears in this issue.