Diane Lockward

Two Poems

Bathing in Forest Dusk

—after Arlene Hyman’s Forest Dusk My fingers slide across your canvas, wiggle through the scrim of trees, into the sponge of orange, red, and green. I slip through bark, splintered, stripped, and bathed in the amber of light released. I forage for the gold at the center. There where a heart has bled, I breathe the duff of deciduous leaves, leave my sorrows among moss and mushrooms, among lilies of the valley and jack-in-the-pulpits. At the base of the trees, a stream of light and shadows. Plunged into this stream, I am cleansed. Out of the shadows of trees, reflections of trees. Out of the darkness, light unfolds, everywhere, topaz, ruby, emerald, gold and more gold. Wood nymph now, I dance a singular dance, my hair threaded with leaves, body covered with burrs, the sweet stink of skunk cabbage and onion grass. The light pulls me in, shadows enfold me. Your trees breathe me in.


Today an abandoned power plant in Tampa. Beautiful, really, the way the building fell in on itself, enveloped in a plume of smoke, bricks tumbling like disaster in slow motion. Convergence of math and physics, this fine art of blasting. Not one person hurt by flying debris, epitomic destruction of what’s not needed— like the small building of the heart, its pumping machine grown idle, furnace snuffed, the years of vacancy. Grief, a vagrant huddled in the corridor. Brick edifice fragile as shells. Comes the condemnation, the inrush of air, the structural blowdown. This is the way a heart melts. No fire, no flames, no heat. Just the soft mushroom of dust and ash, the quiet collapse inside.

Diane Lockward’s second collection, What Feeds Us (Wind Publications), received the 2006 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize. Her poems appear in Garrison Keillor's Good Poems for Hard Times and in such journals as Harvard Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her poems have also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac.