by Moira Egan

Not those fat-ass, clumsy birds
that blunder landlocked,
mostly Down Under,

nor emu’s as a measure
of that power we harness in sockets
and wires, dangerous in thunder-

storms, though that’s closer: no, sweet and swift, it’s the words
that flash, a scarlet cardinal, on the grey sky between us, rocked
from some primordial wonder.

I crawled into a limestone cave last summer,
on an island that still suffers from the pock-
marks of history. Deeper down, mother

earth can smother you, and a new kind of fear,
against enclosure, of forever being stuck,
drips down on you like water

cool and mineral, from her outcrops, uter-
ine, silent. These last months I’ve been fucked
without foreplay & not allowed to utter

what I need to say. I don’t even know your
voice but your poems, shot hot
into my waiting wineglass, are a way to recover

myself, and maybe you, and learn to wonder
again at what it is that makes us good at the longshot,
at distance. Give me your hand. Learn to trace this curve.

Moira Egan’s poetry collections are Cleave; La Seta della Cravatta/The Silk of the Tie; Bar Napkin Sonnets; and, most recently, Spin (Entasis Press, 2010). Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2008. With Damiano Abeni, she has published books in translation by John Barth, Mark Strand, Josephine Tey, and John Ashbery, whose collection, Un mondo che non può essere migliore: Poesie scelte 1956-2007, won a Special Prize of the Premio Napoli (2009). She has been a Mid Atlantic Arts Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; Writer in Residence at St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Malta; a Writing Fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Center; and a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. She has been teaching poetry and literature for many years, and now teaches English and Creative Writing at John Cabot University in Rome.

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