Karen Rigby was born in Panama City, Panama. She is the author of the poetry collection Chinoiserie (2011 Sawtooth Poetry Prize, Ahsahta Press, 2012) as well as the chapbooks Savage Machinery (2008) and Festival Bone (2004). Awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a residency at the Vermont Studio Center, she has been published in Poetry Daily, Washington Square, Meridian, Canteen, The Arcadia Project, New England Review, failbetter.com and other venues. She is currently a participant in the 2013 Flying House project, a collaboration between artists and writers, and resides in Gilbert, Arizona with her husband and son. (www.karenrigby.com)
Nightingale & Firebird
As if the song encoded in the wheel could railroad
to the garden, the mechanical grind transformed
the nightingale to music-box, the music to evergreen
vistas. The ﬁrebird was another story: inventory
of dust on the wings. Dried blood on the red-gold
coat. One thread about tin substitutes for splendor,
the other a ghost-image for your burdened heart.
Easy to confuse the black chinoiserie with feathers
torn from ashes, twin halves for a childhood fear:
you were never loved. You could surrender
to the hammer or the ﬂame but no one would come.
That which they called wonder was only a greased key
in a courtesan’s palm, and when the bird sang, no one
heard the sound a wing makes when the current breaks.
Anne Shaw is the author of Undertow, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Prize, and Dido in Winter forthcoming from Persea Books in 2013. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including Harvard Review, Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, and New American Writing. Also a visual artist, she is currently a graduate student of writing and sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work can be found online at www.anneshaw.org.
Voices drift across the the lawn
and form in the shapes of clovers. A slight breeze
bezels the fishpond, lens
of grainy light, black
cord covered with electric tape. Kneel
on concrete. Tile, sedge.
Koi ghost out
to meet you, blunt-
edged hunger curving
Take this bract that rises and subsides.
Butterscotch or red and white,
their bodies slick
as sorrow, lathered
with the cold, unseemly weed.
Elsewhere, there's a party.
Clink of glasses, square of kitchen light.
Elsewhere, a pair of pliers
its implicate beak.
A hooded sweatshirt
gestures from the bottom of a lake.
Here, put these on. You're going to need
the leather gloves I tossed off in the shed.
Speech is just an instrument to register
the night. I offer
you no hook, no tool,
nothing to make fast
no metal implement with which to cut or mend.
Originally published in Black Warrior Review, Issue 36, No. 2. Forthcoming in Dido in Winter (Persea Books, 2013).
Photograph by Alane Spinney. Used with permission
University of Arizona Poetry Center • 1508 East Helen Street (At Vine Avenue) • Tucson, AZ 85721-0150 • phone 520-626-3765 • fax 520-621-5566 • Hours