Poetry | Maya C. Popa | Two Poems


    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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