Poetry by Sandra Fees

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.

REPRISE

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,

a container 

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.

HERE

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.

UNDERTOW

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.

Poetry by Sandra Fees

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.

About the contributor

Related Articles

More Like This