Four Poems
    Eva Hooker


The female Phoebe waits on the bare, dead poplar branch in the gold

                        light. Wild mustard
                        flowers in loose

panicles lift with a word to no one. The black cat rounds like bread.

                        I am weathering —
                        turning silver.

I am what I am. Fiercely. I lie down. Almost nothing at all: another life

                        ago, skeins and skeins
                        of wool, null

and heavy. I sift and weigh, (The tares were sown when the husbandmen

                        were asleep), wind silk
                        threads on wooden

spools, match colors. A heart when you open it by breaking

                        is and is not
                        a cavity rendering its fruit:

Let me not, O Holy, take this too precisely, too literally:

                        No is at the root
                        of necessity.

Margaret Keeps Counsel
Absent Thee From Felicity A While and Tell

I went to a high place, saw the river bend
like a broken

arm, saw the people, small dots, ants of atomic
particularity, moving

in a crooked line.
The higher I walked, the smaller

they became. I under-
stood perspective, that place where I can become

as no thing,
a brown dot. I see how I can live as if making

myself into a line
of light. I see how I can

in sudden
be no thing at all, how in a blink

of an eye or in the way in which the cheek
lifts, intelligence or the purple iris or the riddle

of number audible
in music, husks and shadows at dusk:

even love can ravage and bruise
and dissolve in an ellipsis of light.

My brain darkens under the hard-
ness of it, the eye

of the mind, a sign post
for breakage.

I am blind like my cat in too much sun,
wonder what never-

the-less means and here-
after and where-
fore: strange these words that point
to no place and no time.

What day so ever you please to send for me
I will come.

When one loves one speaks in camera,
a lone procession

of days and weeks down which one walks
slowly on required course

drowning wierds of fine
significance &

conferrings. For ever is.
There is no eye, only lashes

to cover carefulness and the beauty
of good —

in which I can slip
like a fish

in a school a leash
of kind

that holds me to my
self oh sweet word morimur.

I put a-
side the table of exile & cleave

to you. Do not mistrust me for telling
of anything.

Though I am a woman,
I can keep

counsel. And sorrow.
In saecula. Like the suffering grass.

Margaret, in an Uncivil World, Sets Her Wedding Day
If I Were Monarch of All the World

I would call no servant to judgment for no one is just
in an uncivil world. War is a hunter’s snare. Exile,

a long list of borrowed beds, tourneying of friend,
record of summons, book of unnumbered days.

I hear the cat cry in the lower rooms like an alarm.
My breath, cylindrical and wet. Suffering induces

a kind of euphoric stupor. I walk around the room,
each thing heightened, wake sore with wonder

in the back of my throat. I see and do not see,
hear and do not hear, heart in syncopation, joints

in an awkward culling. The Queen and I are friends
again. No matter now. She defines her world.

I trace dust, worry the surface of things, the window
sill, the curved back of the chair, turn out

of the sun, call for mercy at day break. I know
the burning of houses, the hollow sound of broken

will and neck. Death is headstrong, full of will-
ful imagination. It was reported that you

would be here before we could be with you.
We shall not come till Monday, if then,

but there is not time can alter my affection.
I know not what it can do yours. Be assured.

I am perfectly yours. Do believe what I write
so that you may believe what I say.

The Winter Keeper

I had thought ten winters measure enough.
Then eight were added.
Then, the bear came.

She broke the kitchen window,
pulled down the white curtains,
took the stew pot, and ate. I watched.
She looked back, said,
you are also here? Yes?

I said, we are too crowded to move.
Out here cold is in full term.

So, she said. Sit
at your polished table, watch. I have still
time to eat what you have made.
Sit. Watch.

I am folding winter under my arm.

Like a package. Or a shank-bone.
Or a tender tree.
I strip the leaves. I stuff myself.
And you?

The cellar door bangs. I look away.
I say, all winter something is something else.
The moths sleep. The wind is visible.
The end of each thing forages for shape.
I hunt for — it is a kind of waiting.
An enclosure. For translation.

A wrinkling that signals: begin here and end: prepare
to molt: gather cells and plenitude: sharpen
your pen in gravel: collect accuracy
for bones that stay
rib and lung.

For weightlessness, you need exactitude.

She taps the pot, flips it over.
Whatever she’s thinking, she’s not saying.
Says it’s getting late.
Then turns, speaks again: strip the leaves,
arc your back, take down the tender tree.
I have marked them.

For lessening.

I am too stupid to be afraid. I reach out my hand.
Sit all afternoon.

Snow for ten hours.

No tracks.

Eva Hooker teaches Shakespeare, creative writing, and Symposium, a course for first-year students at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The Winter Keeper, a hand-bound chapbook (Chapiteau Press, 2000) was a finalist in 2001 for the Minnesota Book Award in poetry. Recent poems are published or forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Orion, Shenandoah, Salmagundi, and The Harvard Review. She is a Sister of the Holy Cross.

The poems “Absent Thee from Felicity A While and Tell” and “If I Were Monarch of All the World” are from a series of poems inspired by the life of Margaret Cavendish.

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