THE EMPTY CUP
The earth gathers a wingspan
of leaving beneath my feet
recedes like an exhausted lover.
I try to read the future in a sky
flecked with tea leaves.
Below me a canyon
rimmed in gold vermeil
opens like a bird’s beak at dawn
calling with sudden conviction
and what I want is a bone-china
cup of emptiness
poured by masterful hands
steeped in rivers of the mind
that know when the water’s about
to crest when the bed
has turned to dust.
To begin, a cup
nested by hands.
To begin, sparrows
pivoting like bells struck
full with sound
and latticed branches
outstretching their woven
baskets to hear.
To begin, this body,
for who I am.
To begin, this earth
subsumes who we are.
The red shrub roses
make their final reprise.
To begin, they lift
their cup to collect
the sun’s bright alms.
To begin, a cup
nested by hands
swills the light.
A boon, a balm, a breeze. Sun-shards
breaking across clouds, the splinters
squeezed into the mind’s eye which
narrows, contracting the universe.
Here, a ridiculous thing to waste.
It rushes away from the hand that
tries to stay it, hastened westward.
Migrating geese rippling the sky.
Wordless, agape, no way to follow.
Here is next to always and nowhere,
surrounded by a waning honking,
surrounded by copper wind chimes
resounding from the balcony. Here
surrounds you. The choice, to hoist
verses, disperse them to the phantom
wind, to begin, pen perched to paper.
EVEN THE CONSTELLATIONS
Time to make a turn,
shift on the axis of being,
the lip of you
greeting the lip of a far-off point,
a rambling search for the bell-stroke,
the sound that carries you from this to that
and back again, your eyes sweeping
the dark sky for where to go next—
a new idea or job, a place
just above the horizon.
Each moment, it turns out,
is a new moment, a rosette,
a polka dotted ladybug in its life cycle.
I look to the broad back of the sky for answers.
Even the constellations are in motion.
There are no fixed points of light,
even the barely visible
can’t stand still.
Sanderlings shimmy like a chandelier’s
crystal pendants. It’s as though you can
hear them clinking together. But they are
soft-bodied. Their timing impeccable,
they sprint between waves, wings flittering,
their champagne underbellies gleaming,
rushing forward and away all at once
in no particular direction. Why must there
be a direction? The boundless ocean knows
whichever path it finds is the one to follow,
whether eroding forts and castles or tugging
boat hulls. As if drawing a deep breath,
the undertow moves beneath the burnished
surface. Here on the beach, sanderlings
keep on scattering like glitter. I start to believe
I can tell one from another as they dodge
the sea’s ruffled edge. They make me
think of the glossy-maned mythic women
who live in the mountains. Their blue-grey feet
face backwards, their tracks weave a geometric
pattern. No way to tell their comings from goings.
Sandra Fees is a minister and author of ‘The Temporary Vase of Hands’ (Finishing Line Press, 2017). She served a term as Berks County Poet Laureate (2016-2018), and her work has appeared in ‘Quiddity,’ ‘SOFTBLOW,’ ‘Sweet Tree Review,’ and other journals.