by Edward Harkness
If the Bull has ever been brighter—
the head straight ahead, arrowhead-like,
not yet fallen below the toothed silhouette
of Clemens Ridge—I don’t know when.
Through a line of aspens, the river says hush.
Bright friend, we’ve mastered the new lingo,
our speech muffled, masked: quarantining,
social distancing. We eat our daily bread
of uncertainty, worried sick by the new sickness,
passed to us by innocent others,
passed by us to innocent others.
I think of the plague closing the theatres
in London, of Shakespeare turning
from plays to that more inward form,
the sonnet, a shift from public to private
ways of saying what our lives mean.
Tonight, I wish to speak to your five stars as,
one by one, they disappear
behind the ridgeline, more beautiful
now that they’re gone.
I want to tell them what it was like,
what we loved, why kissed and hugged
each other, or got into arguments
or hurt people we didn’t even know
or did know but hurt even so.
I want to tell your five stars
how on a dare we’d leap into a frigid
mountain lake or marvel at lichens
on basalt walls or study photos of our kin—
unsmiling, long dead—in old albums.
Certain as a moonless night, we must suffer
what we must suffer. We’ll kiss again one day
or pat each other on the shoulder or simply
hold hands on Clemens Ridge, awed once more
by grains of light scattered across a black sky.
Edward Harkness is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Saying the Necessary, Beautiful Passing Lives, and most recently, The Law of the Unforeseen (2018, Pleasure Boat Studio press). His poems can be found online in 2River, Atticus Review, Cascadia Review, The Good Men Project, Hinchas de Poesia, The Humanist, Rat’s Ass Journal, Raven Chronicles, Salt River Review, Split Lip Magazine, Switched-On Gutenberg and Terrain.Org., as well as in print journals including, most recently, Chariton Review and Miramar. His chapbook, Ice Children, was published by Split Lip Press in 2014. He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Hear Ed read selected poems from The Law of the Unforeseen, including “Tying a Tie” and “Airborne,” the two winning poems of Terrain.org’s 8th Annual Contest in Poetry (2018). Arabella Luna Friedland is a visual artist and writer based in New York City. She’s influenced by a childhood with cartoons, a classical education in anatomy and life drawing, and a firm belief that all art — is a portrait.