CONJUNCTIONS:68, Inside Out (Spring 2017)
Five Provence Poems
Safety lives high above itself, protected from what it needs.
It sees what it sees, sees
a cave in its flank.
Time, really: a strategy reconsidering itself.
Time: a narrow street whose height
Sees a bird in flight below it.
Sees a body in a vineyard taking grapes.
Road narrow with caution, height softening
in the cave.
Feels its knuckles burn, scraped on the fortification.
We voyaged into an architecture of nonexistence.
The shape of the fortress, the very
shape of the castle.
Perfection creates invisibility.
We voyaged into the same domicile
we warded off: perfected ruins.
The shape of a structure
is itself belief. Not yet,
To be unsexed, blanched by simplicity,
and rise high in one’s own architecture
over the terrain.
Only those abolished from the false haven
of their own bodies might lift a flare.
For to be a castle is always to be burned alive.
Notre Dame Des Grâces [Plague Chapel]
Wayfarers expect no sanctuary. Therefore
the structure itself is shallow, infectious.
The pilgrim seeks nothing but to get away. Destination
would have been a mortar, Yersinia pestis
would have offered itself frankly
the way arrival is an altar
that creases into itself. The way,
long since foregone, light arrives
drapes the floor, warming
the rat droppings.
The chapel is an attenuated
circulatory system. Within it, the bite itself can hardly
penetrate skin, portal. It had its own way:
to flee is to confuse destination with departure.
To bless is to hallow with blood.
The grace of
nowhere else to go, a flea, a soft
Village Des Bories
Cabane when inhabited.
Sol de cabane when not.
terms of endearment
Hut when it is inhabited.
Earth of hut when not.
spider, moth, exile,
Architecture whose structure
is inviolable and whose interior
Those who have no place to stay
may ration place here.
Dolmen de la Pitchoune
Time is a false start.
The pronoun begs for intimacy—her, you,
Space replete with time,
hollowed in the earth, hidden
by a road—road
compassing time, to move
askance of space because askance
is intimacy, how the earth
recurs to itself in stone.
Small offerings, small floods.
Called the little one
Misremembering the interval, like
a capstone irregular with space.
She comes back to its shoulders
as though it were a body. Darkness
an unguent on a wound, on the road,
on the mortar that crusts and falls away.
Elizabeth Robinson wrote the poems included in this issue while a fellow at the Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France. She is the coeditor, with Jennifer Phelps, of the forthcoming anthology Quo Anima: Innovation and Spirituality in Contemporary Women’s Poetry (University of Akron Press).