Two Poems
Lindsay Turner


Woke from not sleeping going through the words
I know for all the different kinds of songs,
a repertoire of spinning labels, words
repeated to me till I knew them, words
like can, like can-can. Now they sound like light
breaking in the morning without words,
I put my hands on the radiator, dawn pushes words
back down my throat. Some hurt. Unlikely company
back there: you, your straw hat, you mouthing words
precocious on the canal, forgetting all the words
then trying to remember, then it’s morning,
now the sounds assemble to insist on morning,

As if the air holds down a sostenuto pedal, it’s morning
and now that I’m alone the newer word
depresses softly on itself. Morning.
Here’s how I know that it is morning:
the radiator clicks, gray light, birdsong,
some generator, etc. Morning,
I tried avoiding this my turn but morning
insisted. As when the gondolier arrives, gray light,
heroic, but with her eyes closed against the morning
she can’t see him and she doesn’t care to. Morning
at this time holds too tight: my company
is eloquent, more numerous at night, a company

Now dissipating, yes, like dew. A company
gone off to bed while I watch out for morning,
whose absence becomes substance, company
whose assembly had a tune, company
of my composing. You forgot the words,
I wring my hands at the window. Your company,
I mean, was what I meant to have, the company
I keep (in other words) I keep. By song
sometimes I mean generator to accompany
attention with a high-pitched hum. The company
in any case is now asleep, the light
comes up, the bottom line is that the light

Insists, says sing me something, this light
that will not coexist with company,
with the plaza, with the square festooned with lights
above the canal glistening with light
that floats on darkness until morning
comes and things are heavier, the light
sinks into the water and is gone. Light
that floated in the night with easy words
I don’t remember now at all, the light
was flippant, I went on and on, the light
now down there growing algae and what song
is there that wouldn’t close my throat, if song

Depends first on departure? If the song
I’m supposed to toss out to the light
shows up in every definition of the songs
the rest of everything tossed, the songs
each assembled member of the company
discovered on his own without me, songs
I tired of before I thought to echo song
for song? And now because it’s morning
a mockingbird stretches the air, the song
of holes in shoes, of gold things lost, the song
of finding something else. I don’t buy it: morning’s
here, I already used the words for morning

Graying, for early light, for dawn. The words
were easier without the rising song,
the song was easier without the light,
the needle scratches while the company
is dreaming nothing ends in the morning.

Tree Elegy


Two days ago it was not like this and two days
from now it will not be like again     little move there in time, see how that’s done:

backwards supplies the word hence, clearly, forward slants back to the red and yellow
tiered and then extending up and back down into one another like

the light, sunlight, the red a red moon-halo extending from the red and yellow
like a yellow one from yellow and both of them together an effect of lift-off    long-

almost catastrophic, something that could take itself beyond where you could see
it no point in stopping just here anyway just yet the road

circles the whole park


                                                about the tree :

about effusion about elation but you flow by its flow starting-
up     it’s not then words to tell     it drags all you want to say

with it, up to you to bring it back and that’s work and again
the move, the move to a small town you want

also to bring back, the color of the white moon shockingly


late in the day in the sky the moon having prepared the sky by scraping it down the ice from it gone down in goose-down and the shape of the moon reversed flipped back on itself fills like a piece of frown a widening and then sharpness at the corners the melt-in-your-mouth curve that ice now we verge into


I am tired of sitting here with my feet
on the radiator and the radiator
sounding like the car across
the lot continually testing
its engine metal on metal for a long trip
that gets old as fast as leaving
from here there’s no place I can
name where we draw close
enough to ask forgiveness
in it: no copse, no mangrove
swamp or rushes or the cane
below the oak trees where sometimes
if it rains the creek cuts into the slime
below the cane-leaves, quick-departing rill
out of the gully out of the thicket out onto
the white road steaming at the bottom of the hill


the road circles
the whole park I circle the whole park I circle now like I could

bring back that tree in pre-varigated round whole
shine when it has gone     space crossing it variously

and in it disappearing, a miscellany     a crick in my neck from not meeting
any eyes in what I circle, andante, still an avid but an ever-

slower circling     something stubs and stumbles elbows through
domesticated bramble     the problem I have discovered: we’re all

on the same side of whatever film hangs there cobwebby I think
like cobwebs in sunlight but without the cobweb

I can’t call you back     the tree answers when I do
                                                                      currently the leaves mottle

Lindsay Turner’s poetry and criticism have appeared or are forthcoming in the Boston Review, Drunken Boat, Harvard Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn.