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Carol Frome is the Editor of Manifold Press


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Carol Frome

Carol Frome

Candle Sound

Waiting for sleep
I watch a leaf scrape at the air,
detailing its currents and breezes.

This, among candle sounds
murmuring to the resisting darkness.
Who cannot want

the breath of language to settle
into the annex of sleep
and strange conjecture of dream

where you might see
how the roofline of your house
echoes the prayer of your hands,

and where dream erases
the scrim of logic?
There you may find wisdom

like a clear blue marble,
its weight centered in your palm,
or truth thickening the air,
the prescience of change.

You will open your eyes,
knowing you will never
not see again,
feeling the small tug of gravity
bearing you into the future.

Answer Me

Tell me about the vines
of leaves crawling
this brick wall. Explain
by way of calculus
their seasonal change--
I want to know, too,
a formula for counting
the uncountable leaves
and one more especially
for how their soft voices
deny the wind.

Solve for me
birds among the leaves,
how not one is visible,
and yet their chirping presence
permutates to cacophony,
a noise charting this air and
curvature of afternoon.

Give me the theorem
of trees reveling foolishly
toward winter and another
for their protracted roots
gleaning the soil, constant
to all. And what about
the infinite line of seasons,
river of change, river of same--

Graph for me its measure
bending through space.
And answer me, finally,
the blunder of our living.

Field Mouse

After Gary Margolis

What makes me think
I am different from the field mouse,
burrowing through tall grasses,
the timothy and rye, gathering
shreds of leaves and ragged bits
of windblown cellophane
and squirreling it all into a hollow knot,
my heart always a racing clock
and fearing everything--the birds, foxes,
the hay-mow raking these acres,
and the brooding winter,
and finally my own torpor,
my body's long secret of living
among the yellow blades of sweet grass.


There is Valcour Island,
its bays shot full
with masts clinking
and tossing. Pleasure boats, all.
Nothing is left
of the battleships
and little left of the battle:
Some timber
and cannonballs,
one anchor,
burrow into the mud like lost secrets.
But you and I
and all the drowned
or nearly drowned
know the hidden stories,
we understand
the language of waves.
We imagine ourselves
two sailors or maybe
cabin boys, their waters
streaming into the lake,
a warm fluid
spreading out like history
into the smothering water,
all our lessons lost,
seeping easily,
too easily into the waters.