6 a. m.
Syllabus I type
August lake shivers,
under wisps of fog,
then lifts itself
as from downfilled
I sip steaming stove-top coffee,
write Course Description.
Now sift recollections
of other chill mornings—
in the French village
St. Hippolyte du Fort,
baggy brown pants
sway, the arc of the broom
carrying the sweeper.
I am the swept debris
old streets, detritus,
duty of language.
At 6:32 a.m.
My fingers click on keys,
but on the other side of air
I touch your table.
Again finger the lamp screw,
carefully twist it beyond
black burned edge of wick.
Now the lick of new light
rises behind etched glass chimney,
and shadow companions startle and dart
across sheetrock walls.
Some light still frightens.
6:55 a.m. 6:59
7:08 Course Requirements.
In the hyperreal font bank
of my computer screen
I search a color I might know,
some pigment like boiling maple sap
like dried fish blood.
Vital reflection on the eye,
a variant on crayola imagination
like baked dust on a brown beret.
At 7:16 I type Grading Policies
and list in mathematical formula
7:30, Due Dates.
half a world away
as I sit in ice-carved stadium seats,
voices of Norwegian children
vibrate the arctic night
they sing the cycle, the sun’s return.
7:35. 7:40. 8:00.
LED time accumulates like image.
I let it pass.
And each morning
I still come in slippered feet
steady time at the doorway:
there my blue-sweatered Daddy
old formica table
a small radio before him.
His thick brown fingers curve
like the notes; the beat he taps
bends into some dimension—
not sound exactly
but the motion of darkness
on walls mime simple
in a world of flame,
some turning of memory
we too trace,
maybe with fingers
folded over keys. [stanza break]
So this is why I write.
Not because my uncle’s new horse
tried to roll me off its back that spring,
not because of the Mahnomen sheriff
who, with a body bigger than myth
sunk devil deep into the squad seat
pushing us all to pavement.
I tell you the vote to build
yet another bank, new road,
casino was incidental.
I type Syllabus.
8:20 comes and goes.
I add Reading List.
Supplementary Bibliography at 8:48.
The province. Not memory exactly.
Not story or language. Nor even pure sound.
The year grandma dodged rabid skunks.
Fuel bills tied in embroidery floss.
Following blue trouser legs
down each thorny path of months,
months not named for roman gods.
Following sun-dappled work boots
to berry patch afternoons,
a dimension both hungry and sweet
red-fingered and flushed.
Don’t call it happiness.
Think of the morning lake
the ice stadium the broom
carrying human motion in its arc.
Who can explain the science
of alchemy, the texture of stillness—
one thing suspended
minute in its
Final Exam Date.
Two hours to declare knowledge
in lines and boxes.
I turn from counting and there,
in the sliver space between
one second ticking,
you arrive—a dawn child.
Call it return.
Nothing as accidental as birth order
Who knows of sources,
only image and refracted light.
Assembled here like tincture,
medicine color or errand of memory—
as if the alphabet song
were made of scents or gesture.
Each lilt of meaning
like the living flame of old campfires,
like the synapse of a moving bobber
on Pickerel Lake.
but the consequence of the barely visible
filament, line stretched taut between infinities.
How evidence spills from every water surface
that rises and falls as code or sign
fingers gripping the translucent thread—
with life pulling hard on either end.
About Kimberly Blaeser
Kimberly Blaeser, writer, photographer, and scholar, is the author of three poetry collections—most recently Apprenticed to Justice; and the editor of Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. Blaeser served as Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-16. A Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, where she teaches Creative Writing and Native American Literature, Blaeser is also a member of the low residency MFA faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts. In addition, Blaeser serves as a member of the board of directors for both the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. An enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe who grew up on the White Earth Reservation, she is an editorial board member for the “American Indian Lives” series of the University of Nebraska Press and for the “Native American Series” of Michigan State University Press. Blaeser’s poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction have been widely anthologized, and selections of her poetry have been translated into several languages including Spanish, French, Norwegian, Indonesian, and Hungarian. Blaeser is currently at work on a collection, Ancient Light, which includes ekphrastic poetry and a form for which she coined the term “Picto-Poem.”