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ADELAIDE Independent Bimonthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Bimensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 




 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WAS THAT CITY
By Mary Crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WAS THAT CITY
―after Cavafy

 

What city tangled me in its sandy roots,
led me into desert, where I gasped 

at vastness and vacancy, pyramids fringing
miles of nothing growing, a void 

I vanished into, as imagination gave way
to reality starred with sand, endless beach

where I lost patience with boredom,
with ruins inside me, unforgiving sand.

All along the river, ruined temples languished, doors
pouring out a sand-story, above a thousand buried

sphinxes—how small human life appeared,
where sky tired of light, where dark seemed to glow

with death’s glaring ink, where distant sand lay
like frosted glass, an endless depiction of repetition.

I meant travel to set me free, to teach me wisdom, 
how to bear pain without complaint, to decipher sand patterns.

Instead, that city revealed a hissing, insinuating
resistance along the Nile where revenge flung words 

like glass shards between sand barricades—
beyond sand, no end of light. Sky was years ago. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEAD SEA

A tiny fragment of wood
probably from a tree carried here
by the Flood and buried in layers
of mud and salt from a time
when this lake had another shore
before the learned Claudius wrote
his history of the Etruscans
in twenty volumes, now lost,
and before I offended you
when I undertook my tour of the horizon,
my class in mudslide survival,
a tutorial in compromise which I failed.
You still wouldn't speak after I apologized
even though I couldn't remember what I'd done:
The dike with my finger held.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAINT ECHO OF A MAHLER SYMPHONY
DRIFTS FROM A NEIGHBOR’S WINDOW

 

I can hear the sounds a piano’s notes intend,
meaning in a noise that leans so hard
on the exceptional, then dazzles
the sea’s flat pond with light.
This time of day I listen to surf, that net
of syllables without meaning that troubles
the abstract—leaking too little of the everyday.

 

How vast dusk is as it arrives to this terrace 
in Progreso, seaweed-strewn sand, muted grays,
blues, tans of any seaside dusk. How far removed
from the dingy town, its trash-lined streets
that lead here to this house with great glass vistas,
curving staircase up to a bedroom where my lover’s
muscles form a cord ladder I like to climb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALMOST AN ISLAND

One night I glimpsed a fiery sphere
in you, a core longing to be expressed.
You distilled a set of words,
and in my vision your words rang—
how was I to translate?

You spoke as if above the world,
but you were in it, sunk into its very marrow,
transparent and dizzying.
As space entered your voice,
I glimpsed a teeming sea.

Daybreak gathered all its syllables,
horses with manes that rushed across
my hearing as if I balanced on a rocking boat.
I watched a sunrise shimmer
in the blue stir of distances.

If I send you
masks with eggs in their beaks,
foreheads where roots crackle,
or eyes that bulge like planets,
could you make me tremble yet again?

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Mary Crow’s poems have been published in or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Hotel Amerika, New Madrid, The American Journal of Poetry, Poet Lore, Illumintions, and other literary magazines.

 

 




 




 

 

 

     
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