Two Poems

Emily Rosko


If I think of any beginning I think water
down to the taproot, cell base, underground

aquifers that stretch Nebraska’s ends: the stillness
of the lake mornings and vapor pocketed

in the grazing fields. Clouds
releasing the first skeptical drops, next sheets

to overfill land: torrents, then torrents
not for years. The sea’s upwelling cold gone

warm: migration, source-seeking, the murder a full well
could draw. On the prairie runoff frets

the rock, the tributaries chemical-rich
deposit silt: dead zone in the Gulf

of Mexico. All’s glassy, gold-
glinted from above: pond, chlorine

blue pools. Iced Pluto knows no liquid: no mineral
congregate or cave formation. Snow-

still, hushed as it was here before: glacier
in retrograde, the moraines seeded and greened.

Adaptation among organisms: salt to fresh to
in between. Uptake in the xylem, circulation

in the vein: miracle, madness, exit: water
as a means, shaped by its container,

formless so that each formed thing
takes mass — waterlogged, exposed.

What's Discovered Is Wiped Out

To say it was over and done with no harm
wasn’t really the case. The hemlocks wind-

burnt, losing. Fishermen wrestle with, hook salmon
in high lead content water. Stunned look, the red

frayed marks. It’s better: eyes averted, both
of us tucked in, knees touching. Placement,

the stars rocking in their cradles. Always:
the dream of the dog alive again. Such childish

dreams, such disregard for the stock market. He
was kind enough to leave the proper notes, one

to each child, and to phone the police
ahead of time. Oblivious cow in a nearby

field, emulating nothing but cowness. Shoulder-
propped, spring-loaded. So easy to use no wonder

it’s number one. Oh clocked moon, calibrate
our hearts! The boy inflamed and not taking

no for an answer. Lord, give strength. Sympathies:
the windy sky parts now in flocks. All the I’m-so-sorry-

for-your-loss and help-me-help-you’s. Then a starling
took to nesting in the chimney. Not a gift or a treasure

hidden, long searched-for. The sun just a penny
as it slips through pockets of cloud. Houses locked in

shadow. A round of quarter-moons left till winter
solstice. I won’t tell you again how

it happened—the quick leaving, the sound a splinter
through ice. You’ve got it wrong, sleepyhead, it’s

snow sheeting in across the lake. No
miracle, just water congregating around dust.

Emily Rosko

. . . is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Recipient of the 2002 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship and a Jacob Javits Fellowship, her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Denver Quarterly, The Notre Dame Review, Pleiades, Another Chicago Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and the American Poetry Journal among others. Her poetry has also been awarded an AWP Intro Journals Award and the Robert Chasen Prize from Cornell University, where she earned her M.F.A. Her manuscript, Raw Goods Inventory, was a finalist for the 2004 National Poetry Series and for the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Poetry Prize.