The Woman Who Watches the Sky                                   by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg 

for Joan Foth  
The woman who watches the sky knows how light  
never slips but lands with intent, whitening into our view  
what the earth says now when cedars rush east, the red  
and rock pigments into history. No distinct categories  
of the known and unknown but how they turn together  
to bring new birds, a long diagonal of stratus,  
and the mountain sharpened by steel blue clouds.  
Lower down, poplars send up their yellow call,  
shadows of one bend in the earth cover another,  
and the road roots back to the slow green of memory.  
It could be just west from Chimayo, or across the Flint Hills  
of Kansas where the green turns red, the sky collapses.  
It could be the weather, always vertical despite how we  
move or age. It could even be night on the cusp of change,  
the mourning doves emptying themselves of song,  
the darkness that clamored for our anxious hearts  
dissolving rain into the valley behind the next hill.  
She hears the birds. She sees the bands of blue or wine,  
the tilting flight of what's beyond our stories, and time's old clock  
turning back to ground. When the sky comes, she's ready  
for what any given moment of light and change sings  
in its rusty voice of who she is, who she's always been.  

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 23 books, including Miriam’s Well, a novel; Everyday Magic: A Field Guide to the Mundane and Miraculous, and Following the Curve, poetry. Her previous work includes The Divorce Girl, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir on cancer and community; and six poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather with photographer Stephen Locke. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely.

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.  


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