Charlotte’s Julie Suk is the author of four volumes of poetry and co-editor of Bear Crossings: An Anthology of North American Poets. Lie Down With Me: New and Selected Poems is forthcoming from Autumn House Press in fall 2011.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF RUIN
At a distance:
seemingly intact piers,
dark recesses, blind arcades.
Nearer, the sky
pours through arches,
a drizzle of rain inside the nave,
the passage crumbling,
open to grass and grazing sheep.
On good days,
strokes of sun the trespasser,
devastation given a kind of splendor,
the strobe lights of memory
playing out impressions of a tower
you know is not there,
nor are the bells,
nor the stalls, nor choir,
not one finger tapping time
on the carved arms of chairs
here the church,
here the steeple,
open the door–
no vaulting hosannas, the chalice
and wine of remembrance
as were the tapestries,
as was the incense of flesh
not yet carrion, not yet stringing off
into sorrow, base silence.
(First published by Chariton Review)
WHERE WE ARE
Three a.m., the house a foreign country I wake in,
same language but a different inflection,
a creak on the stair a harbinger,
this jolt into insomnia an alert.
In an etching by Goya, demons perch on a bedpost
and clamor for the sleeper’s heart.
Long ago we knelt for prayers
but those children have slept for years,
dreams merging child into beast.
a truck explodes and bodies bloom
with the fleshy extravagance of peonies–
not petals but a scream settling on entrails,
bone, meat, our betrayals piling in gutters.
It should be obvious where the fault lies,
yet we continue to build there, the structure
collapsing into itself, the century in ruins.
a trail remains, linking our inlands,
the path to summers in the mountains
where a halo of hummingbirds
crowns the feeder,
rock hectored by a snow-fed river,
mist from the falls beading our hair.
Moving as we do from the body
and its parochial demands to lessons of love,
you might say we succeed as often as not,
on call even as we sleep.
Even as we sleep,
the cry of a puma cracks the night.
(First published by Shenandoah)