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Three Poems
Healing by Secondary Intention

Dark rosette in the lung’s

pewter lace, early autumn chill

Splinters of coal 

asbestos mist

the long
intention of habit, pack 

after pack

Now she is all 
effect, and all 

coming out at once, the hair she combs 
to dogwood and oak-

crisped air— 

Secondary intention:
a dog bite heals by leaving

the palm unstitched, the wound 


Astringent sky, morning

a feathered arch, quilled light

Summer a lost net 
of held rain

Spring, I will find her, all down this street

Birds’ nests, threaded with silver

On Vengeance

Surfacing starved out the heart
                                      of swallowed salt from the kelp’s

black bulb, glitter
             a shattering of skin, crystals

clinging to the strand
                         of yarn a child soaks in brine

to replicate the miracle
             of evaporation shimmering in a jelly jar, icy

wick sparking
                         an approximation of winter, close

as you get this far south, the world brief
                                                             under glass, yard

a broken abacus, each grass blade beaded
                                                 with petrified light. Sky 

fallen to ice. 
That hard flight. 

New Construction

Nothing stops the north drift down, not rising 
off-season heat, not bandaged roofs marooning a continent’s 

storm-gnawed edge, not orange groves ground beneath skeletons 
of houses staccatoed with sawdust and wire scrollings 

sleeved in caution’s seal-sleek skin, the marrow 
what electrifies—

                         Cadaver by cadaver, the scaffold of bone
breaks down, as a toothpick-thin ship threads

away from its bottle’s blown glass—bone
morticians looted and sold: fibula, femur

plied from limbs rag-dolled and rigged 
to sheath plumbing pipes to pass the body 

through open-casketed view, 
the canal of air rich with lily, 

carnation. What’s missing 
re-circuits into the still-

breathing suspended in a surgical theater three 
blinkered states away— 

                                      You can drive all the way to country
and never touch earth; you can bottom out 

in heartland where vaulted wheat 
volts away from the silo’s erect 

conical tip, harvest 
a reversal of light, a flowing-back into the body falling silver 

storey by swirling storey, as groundwater 
siphoned from arteries tangled in bedrock slips down pipes’ 

copper-laced throats, southern light streaming 
faucet to hose to embedded 

flowers along a drive the spreading desert beads 
with bird-shot— 

                         Bone by bone, tooth 
by tooth, the thorntrees’ splintered staircase 

sweeps to flame; fist by fist, pulped pines
paper the sky with phantom-limb, phantom-

needle, so what drills the distance 
deeper isn’t the question 

mark of a dust devil raising a scrim 
of spat-up sand and mica-wings, but what shivers the blown-

open silence—chaff of the hilltop 
dynamited to foundations, to concrete’s fluent 

stiffening mimicking the shattered
ladder of stone didn’t we think would always hold us 

up through the whitened 
and widening air.  

Sandra Meek has published six books of poems, including Still, An Ecology of Elsewhere, and Road Scatter (all Persea), and the Dorset Prize–winning Biogeography (Tupelo). Recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, the Poetry Society of America’s Lucille Medwick Memorial Award, three Georgia Author of the Year awards, and two Peace Corps Writers awards, she is co-founding editor of Ninebark Press, director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit, poetry editor of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, and Dana Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Writing at Berry College.