Sofia M Starnes won the 2002 Editors’ Prize in Poetry for her poem, "The House that Bled"

The House that Bled


On Thursday, the vein quivered and
burst, its aurora imperiling

her temple's alleys. Imagine
the body's accesses this way: a settlement here,

there, the hilly mazes, begonias,
which the drivers ignore,

and prickly hollies hugging the walls.
Half-a-mile away, an intersection frets, but that

has little to do with the baby bawling in an upstairs
room, or the collie sniffing the rose,

or the mulchbed rising—
hazardous home, where she falls.

The vein leaked, and it flooded her hall,
it threatened her words, and it squinted
her light, it rose-shed her spring,

and it wet the roots totally. The fall
in her voice, unperplexed, sort, convinced,
did not query the reddening

drop of a cherry on her lap,
this early attempt to remind her that He
always was. And she thought, I'm in God's

fingers now, at the end of the trap,
in the ever unsellable lot, with a tree oddly
in bloom, the sapling away from the floods.

Someone built a house there, for the red
fruit that trembled incessantly, for the car-hum

a backwoods away that clogged
and unclogged, strummed the pickets, for the bustle

enduring beyond the aurora in the mud.


Dreamy-eyed or dozing,
she must delay the recreation of her skin:

smooth would mean forgetful, relief
mould be the negative of rose,

thimble of a thorn, a pink well
closing up after a tornado, recalling

nothing. We fear yet love our scars.
                  As artisans

we're drawn to storied houses, to strip and
tell their stock of wood,

armlock of newer plaster.
We know that someone

notched, nicked, blistered their beams and
mantles, until

the white gypsum hung.
             Houses withstand their centuries,

and double tales, luster and bristle

inside-out, wished-back wounds hoisting
their wishable omens.

The rough of heaven clings to them and
cannot flee, eliding.

                        Finally, she
will make her way home, a sparrow
in a rookery, familiar-all this to wake her
from her light coma.
I would suggest the room with twin-light
faces, where
the wall jags, where the old wood
                     blessed be the world she knew
survives in nudges.

Sofia M Starnes's publications include A Commerce of Moments (Editor's Prize 2001 Transcontinental Poetry Award, Pavement Saw Press) and The Soul's Landscape (2001 Aldrich Poetry Competition). Her poems appear in numerous journals including Notre Dame Review, Laurel Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Hubub, Folio and Art/Life Magazine (Rainer Maria Rilke Poetry Award). The poems in the Marlboro Review are from The Rood of Jesse.

Copyright ©2002 Sofia M Starnes

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