Nancy Kuhl inside the Beinecke Library

Said the Water

August is Summer Reading Month in Daily Nutmeg. Please enjoy these excerpted poems from Nancy Kuhl’s Pine to Sound (2015).

* * *

Night Swimmers

The window observes
the water’s transactions

with the moon: seadark
proposal working

the scene to pieces. And
with that house lit fearsome

behind us, we crossed tide-
stained sand, sank to ankles.

The rule of unsteadiness says
the past is wild but almost

over. Clear-voiced Atlantic,
dizzy thrill. We walked into

That charmed cold; follow
said the water and we did.

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A window imagines
remote constellations

and the moon resists each
association, not like anything

they compare it to.
I spend the night thinking

about gravity’s grip on the bed,
the body. About the way

blood behaves, conscious
of pulse; counting. Habit

like pacing the vacant hallway.
In the dream you are holding me.

Then mornings flush radiant;
the phone will ring and be answered.

In our separate cities we are always
talking. Traffic distant on two streets,

voice and idiom slip one to another
(you say capacities, say caprices).

Today half of everything drops
to the pavement. I think you mean

losing ground but you say falling apart.
There is a lapse. An aside. There is

a faraway thought, glimmering
impossible. Afternoon I call, hear

the machine the unchanging
tone and I wonder what will I say.

I spend all day thinking about my heart.
It’s undeniable, the greed

with which the telephone rings and
goes on ringing. In the dream,

you enter the room, you open your mouth
as if you might speak. Wonder

then what did I say. As if you might call
or cry out. You open your mouth:

red lips pink tongue and
the shining white edges of every tooth.

On Seeing the Dead

The figure, the familiar
curve of shoulder,
a chance made available
and quite.

__ __

But the truth is the eye
is flexible and not
to be trusted. It is
careless, without
on desire, short on
particulars. Some-
times keen to ignore
the obvious.

__ __

Like a prayer
to St. Jude for a win
at the track, the possibility
of the long shot coming in
over the favorite. 10 to 1.

__ __

sometimes too I
am disappointed
by my hands,
their willingness
to loosen their grip.

* * *

Pine to Sound by Nancy Kuhl
Where to buy: Shearsman Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Small Press Distribution

Image, photographed by Dan Mims, depicts Nancy Kuhl inside her workplace, the Beinecke Library.

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