Creative Writing from
Fairleigh Dickinson University
MFA Program

Wire Man

Anne Harding Woodworth

A man on the edge of the woods
brings in wires through dead leaves and joe-pye weed
on into the steamy interior where I think
there is life. Connection is electric

voiceful sometimes mournful
treeful, sometimes moth on the bulb.
At night, insects around me rub their wings
keeping me warm with three-syllable friction,
the back and forth of darkness.

By day, birds sing through my flow-whispers
their descant sharper and wider than a requiem solo.
Blessed baby Jesus I left you out
in the stable and that's the way I wanted it.

O Wire Man, yesterday I saw you tight-rope walk
without a parasol in heavy steel-toed boots
on high over the inner road. Balance brings
veins muscle leaves skin and earth into one body
of the most beautiful kind.

The space is heavy, moist evening
sweet air of skunk.

       from Woodworth: The Mushroom Papers (Northwoods, 2002)
        originally published in Painted Bride Quarterly

Slipping into the Chenango

Anne Harding Woodworth

The town I started out in
fell later into the river.
The day I returned, Cooper's Hardware teetered
over the raw banks like a forgotten two-man saw.

Zilpha's had reached detachment
floating with the brown slow current,
ladies' dresses in its window
bent like the willows on the banks.

Mr. Hoffmann's bakery was long gone over--
and Luzetta's house, its rotten clapboards
flaking off into the water,
was languid, an exotic boat,
cartooned by a pump organ behind that gurgled a whine
like the beginning and end of bagpipes.

By 14, Luzetta had teeth so decayed
her mouth looked like black salamander
when she smiled, which she did often before erosion.

Now gulls on the leftover mud flats
squawk their thanksgiving for the easy catch
that lies exposed,
a whimpering of gills.

Cherry Days

Anne Harding Woodworth

There they were crawling and lolling about on the boughs like caterpillars.
   --Samuel Butler in Alps & Sanctuaries (1881)

It's something Fellini'd do,
putting people in trees,
sexual, larval, and funny,
eating wordless
to a contentment of cherries.

Their lips put the truth
back into red, an almost black with juice.
They are oblivious to the stranger,
who arrives like an unknown dog on a Sunday,
thirsty in their village.

Silence swirls in the stone streets,
sun being a town's only guardian
when the fruit is ripe.
He stands before their houses needing protection
of the dark cool behind closed shutters,

while in the trees, citizens gorge
to the point of sleep.

       from Woodworth: The Mushroom Papers (Northwoods, 2002)
        originally published in Voices in Italian Americana

Mortal Remains

of Taddeo McCarthy (1455-1492), who died on his journey from Rome back to Ireland after being wrongly excommunicated then rehabilitated by Pope Innocent VIII Cathedral of Ivrea, Italy

Anne Harding Woodworth

Your skull looks out
from the glass box I want to open
to hear your unfinished song
come through that upper jaw of unperfect teeth,
an ave-maria-cum-spiritu-tuo-chant,
though your wise and humble tongue is gone,

your brogue muted, Latin silenced on the road home.
Your sockets hollow out, scoop back into blackness
where your heresies and charities
echo from ear to ear
ear to ear. And those fragile pieces of you
in a pile at your neck, are they mine, too?

I sing and pluck at strings
with fingers held in place by my veneer,
overlay that renders me aligned.
No pope has ever thought to throw me out
or take me back.
I am what remains, walking home.

      from Woodworth: Aesop's Eagles and Poems from the Road (Northwoods, 2001)
        originally published in U.S. Catholic