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11.18.20
Three Poems
Anchorite


Solitude’s pattern is duration.

Solitude’s cloven hoof cracking the dry floor of the world.


See, the bee in the monk’s rock beehive.
Honey of the mind is mortar.



Solitude’s goat milked, beard pulled.
The quiet is wayward.  Quiet, also: noisy.


Solitude’s pattern, duration tugged
through time, and a hermit

variously drags a lame foot
or lifts impossible boulders.



Solitude’s goat eats the garbage of its own pocket.


Each event returns to deepen the sense of alone.



The quiet’s burlap rough against the skin, cinched
loosely at the waist.



To be so communicated is to forsake language
for the only other language.


Time got lost and circled itself.

Finally.  The protagonist’s relief that no one is there.


 



Grocery List


Whose recipe lacks central ingredients.

Who registered a hunger for exactly this absence.


            “I was a parasite who bit
             my own flesh just to interrupt
             the interminable route of the
             blood

through it.”





When, once, pronouns were food.  When, today,
the phone rang and rang.



Isolation was a dream in which a dying man
forbids who to follow him into another room, equally
devoid of color.


Whose—ours—solitude was so clean.


Who neither leaves a message nor
responds to one.


Who goes cautiously out the door and
leaves the grocery list behind.


Who has spilled water, left oil marks on the floor,
who wipes the doorknob flawlessly clean.


 



Jettison


We say the words, but do not know the fact.

The fact is gone, definitely, acutely.



We know the thing moving in the dark is a branch and, that,

inhabited by leaves.

As we know the rat courses through the garden floor eating fallen seed.

But this particular solitude steals the knowledge of our eyes.



We cannot certainly define what a message is.

Nor the scent of you.  Nor you.  Nor you.

We forgot that we wanted the messy, true, sometimes

unpleasant current of air rising through our nostrils

so we could eat it in our lungs.



We say that a spirit is fact.  We plant a tree

to mark the truth of fact that can only be asserted, never

seen, never scented, palpated, soothed.  Again.



Every day to jettison the fact we cannot know.

Faint odor.  Suspicion of moisture on the window.

An itch between the shoulder blades where the spine would have been.

Commemorative root struggling to inch down past the gnaw

of the rat, the curse of the new day


forced on the dazzling absence of beginning.



Had we been sure.

Had we been sure, we would have mounded up the quiet

and bathed desperately in it, since we couldn’t just

exhale and blow it away.



Where there is no fact, there can be no consolation. 

We chose to be plural in the presumed grace of what

is presumed to be moving in the dark.  Where



we woke stiff and tentative of a morning to find

what we believed to be sure: a tree—there—planted,

but by whom?—and to whose absent memory

and by what absent remembering hand?  The neck,



so oddly supple, turns our head so we can see if

the leaves have been greened by our insistence on

their greenness.


 

Elizabeth Robinson is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Rumor, from Free Verse Editions. With Jennifer Phelps, Robinson co-edited the critical anthology Quo Anima: innovation and spirituality in contemporary women’s poetry, published by University of Akron Press.