Maya C. Popa
The wind moves the leaves
in multiple directions
like a mind caught between alternatives.
Bright arrows of sunlight
between lashes, the branches
cleared revealing nests.
One day, this grief
will seal from feeling,
a cool politeness round a thin raised scar.
The crows are hard at work again,
driving their beaks
into frozen fields.
What does it matter, you think.
Matter! Matter! they reply.
The Tears of Things
In a restaurant with mandolins affixed
to the ceiling, which you remembered
visiting at intervals in childhood,
the drive from Stroud into London’s
bright heaving with a hunger more
than an aptitude for hope,
we spoke of school days, ink stone
dark as grackle, lines for baths
in winter’s thinning light, then fumbled
towards the past that’s part invention,
the town whose mills were powered
by rivers, fields that froze like strangers
hearing their names called. Weddings
took their cue from funerals, the locals
bouncing home from hedge to hedge,
though not without its charms, you said,
the grouse stone-heavy come July.
A life forged out of spent alternatives,
enchanting as a liquor brewed by moonlight.
All night, I listened for my cause
in words blue-shifted under longing’s reach
until slow aerated rain began at last,
and we set out in the shadow of an
unnamed thing. We saw, in an absent-
minded wish, a loose stitch, the mind
in the velvet of the matter. No –
it was the sort of seeing that unfastens
the lacrimae rerum, tears of things.
We drowned, not knowing we stood in water.
Maya C. Popa is the author of American Faith (winner of the 2020 North American Book Prize; Sarabande, 2019), the pamphlet Dear Life (winner of the PBS pamphlet prize; Smith|Doorstop 2022) and the forthcoming Wound is the Origin of Wonder (W. W. Norton, Nov. 2022). She is the Poetry Reviews Editor at Publishers Weekly and a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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