Two Poems by Elisabeth Watson
Bread It was bread that survived. Motives undisclosed and Holy insofar as it was silent.
All other furniture was lost to the war: Ligament and password, loves uncataloged and cataloged, the universe as it was before Copernicus-- innocent as we left it, sleeping on the hearth.
Should you find yourself Homeless with a stove but not a language, Salt the flour, salt the water, salt the blue flame and the yeast Salt the ghosts of your table your chairs your pulpit Salt the fields and the wells and never look back.
The bread of life Is the bread your father gave you When you asked him for a stone. It is the bread that did not rise when you fled slavery in the night. The bread that grew while you were sleeping, faithless even to yourself.
Who will come hungry to my table? The mute heart's oldest question sits down, unanswered, to a feast. What it tastes there, strangely, is God making for safe harbor, his whole horizon changed when he finds himself anchored beyond all famine for good.
What you remember at the altar is your body not your name.
From here we can have Madison Avenue and the towers beyond, too, are ours. A seashell washed up, the Chrysler building glows differently in different lights and the Everyone of Manhattan who does not see us is seeable from here.
With the windows thrown open for lunch we all eat mostly apples not biting like Eves but eating like sculptors cutting for ourselves sharp sounding sharp falling scales from their flesh, gold and gasply white by season. This is done in noontime rumination and not symmetrically we eat our apples not partitioned halfmoon from the start But as the knife takes us through the eating Always with gaps for sunlight at the window between knife and apple meeting.
Halfway through January, the orchids on all windowsills The ones I thought were only sleeping Dropped open all at once. Each one was moth and lantern both— and our few rooms bloomed with many silent flowers.
I will study these women until I am happy as they are. We will come to cut our apples with the same slow measure and how!—in that future life—they admire me! We will come into our own togetherness, which is an upstairs room where they sit and wonder how they ever got on without me.
The snow up here is more beautiful than snow. I can tell from my time thus far that spring will be the same. I already see how that next season will be unavoidable and itself Even with only stone-glass-stone and sky to bring it here.
Some afternoons I do not bring an apple or borrow the sharp apple knife. Those are days I go to the library, over the marble, up past the lions. Though that’s not entirely true: I have inter-ambulated the lions so many times, I don’t truly pass them now.
For me, they have disappeared.