Three Poems

​Fists Tight Against the Cold

The city is not imperishable,
as you who have walked concrete
during winter have seen 
when you had bad shoes, when all was thin
and you were rising like a weed
between the cracks,

When you called on shadows, 
into clotted skies, when nothing listened
to your breathing deep infused
with fumes and sleet, 
when you put your bare hands in pockets,
fists tight against the cold.

The city is not imperishable,
so you keep moving, leaving 
options open, no afterburn,
leaving nothing behind but smoke
to build another Babylon, to shapeshift
ancient wounds to gold.

House of Rain

Tender ghosts,
do not come back.

I make the sign of the eagle
to keep them at bay, to

keep that original 
sin away from me.

Disown all the beds 
you warmed too fast, 

that pass as love in this world.
Now lay you down among the stones,

go to sleep inside your house of rain
pull the blanket of the tides up

over your head, pretend that nothing
can ever touch you now,

that what mouths have said will last.

Hard Shore

Please feed the birds. I am among them,
even crows, who watch with care
as you move out of time and place
as you turn from this hard shore.
The gulls will mark your passing well.

Is it true all gods feed on despair?
Why else do they unleash dark hungers
on those cut from their flocks and run to ground,
on blind and fallen angels fumbling their way
through infinities of stone?

Please give my fragments to the shade, invoke
a gathering northern wind, full-blown with snow.
Do not intone the swallow’s grace or final verse 
when you go to walk the granite trace alone,
as close as you can get to sky. 

ROBERTA SENECHAL DE LA ROCHE is an historian, sociologist, and poet of Micmac and French Canadian descent, and was born in western Maine. She now lives in the woods outside of Charlottesville, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and the University of Virginia, and is Professor of History at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Her poems have appeared in the Colorado Review; Vallum; Glass: A Journal of Poetry; Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review; Yemassee, and Cold Mountain Review, among others. She has two prize-winning chapbooks: Blind Flowers (Arcadia Press) and After Eden (Heartland Review Press, 2019). A third chapbook, Winter Light, and her first book, Going Fast (2019) are published by David Robert Books. 

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ISSN: 1533 2063
FALL 2019