Thinning to Fable

Inside the house no snow

No wood of footbridges dark with a staying wet
in a forest black with green
and lore with white

But burning hands under water

A glass of ethanol
on the kitchen table

No direct sunlight

There shouldn’t be an owl
wrinkling air into glimmer song
right outside this city window
but there is for the augury
to pick like a splinter
like something delivered

In the house no lake strange
for how it rests without having toiled
how silently it bakes for the sun
wild revival of fish and muck in its dream
of a belly

But shreds of sky
we can see
that still fold out
into the rest
sky and the day last year
when we drank kumquat tea
in a cool dim room
then walked with the sun
through the city
all the way home

A ration of reminders
of backroads the taste of ale
brewed near a harbor the small sound
of pebbles rolled against pebbles
to reveal how massive the mountain
the oaks so many days
we lived without collecting

We used to move around inside
the earth where there was everything

Now we must beg of story
to let us walk to go beyond

Click here to read Annie Virginia on the origin of the poem.


Image: “Lumia Shot: A Mystical Hut” by Tom Mrazek, licensed under CC 2.0.

Annie Virginia:
I live in Manhattan, and because I have multiple chronic illnesses, as soon as Covid-19 lockdown started, my partner and I fully locked down– I’ve left the apartment twice daily just to walk our dog for 10 minutes, and aside from that, we’ve stayed in. The sense of entrapment can be maddening. During those first few months, memories, especially those from my time in Maine, came to me in these bright, visceral images, along with a feeling of longing so intense I can only liken it to missing a lover. When I wrote this poem, I was feeding off of these images, such a stark contrast from the inside of a city apartment where the only natural life I could see was the squares of sky in the windows, which taunted. Strangely, we kept hearing an owl by our window in those months, like a haunting of the natural world we couldn’t access. In those months, I longed deeply, and I also thought about how I, and likely others, have not in the past gathered moments to memory with the joyful devotion we should have. The stories of our memories feed us so well, and so willingly, and I look forward to feeding them better when we can move safely again.

Annie Virginia
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