6 a. m.

Syllabus I type

while outside

August lake shivers,

stretches silver

under wisps of fog,

then lifts itself

as from downfilled

sleep.

 

6:20.

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

a future.

7:30, Due Dates.

Yet

somewhere

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

not light,

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.

Winter count.

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

turning.

 

9:22.

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

dictates destiny.

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.

Not spelling

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

About Kimberly

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.”

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