Patricia Clark


Saw it on the interstate, open top cargo bed,
a hairy leg or two sticking up, a shiny hoof.
The name of the establishment painted, doorpanel,
was something like “Happy Ending Acres.”
Do they pick up road-kill, I wondered, or make
the rounds of farms losing an animal, helping cart
them away? Once I thought I wanted to embrace
everything, could take it all in, reading, studying
the news, crime, the worst details, that mind
and heart could mesh what seemed, at first,
to be horror. Blinker clicked on, I went curving
out to pass the truck, refusing eye contact, then
blending back into traffic, turning the radio down,
a glance sideways, no more, at shorn desolate fields.


Think leaf, maple of course—
or starfish clinging to the pier,
underwater, coral-red.

The hand goes on working
in light, darkness, chill—
yesterday swinging a hammer,
knocking in the post
to steady the young redbud.

At the park, the hand

double-gloved. Still,
it must flex to keep warm.

Asking questions of its

Will you help add an equal force?

Can you sub for me on day’s
third shift so I can lie down?

The left works on

bicep curls, kickbacks.

Four fingers and a thumb
linked by a fertile plain—

Look where the rivers cross—

Count which ones make it
to the sea.

Even the smallest
tributary leaves a mark
in skin.

The flexible hand
remembers each
object held—

feather, shell, the apple
warm from a lover’s hand.


The woods stand brown, slick,
and something from the sky
drips from their shoulders.

Do you fear, as I do, for the warming
earth, O sweet?

Beside me a half-tree,

pecker fretted with scabs of bark

I can almost see my face

in your flank,
a shimmer of dream making me

pause, staring.

Let’s meld if we can,
let’s dance.


Patricia Clark is Poet-in-Residence and Professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University. Author of four volumes of poetry, Patricia’s latest book is Sunday Rising. Her work has been featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, also appearing in The Atlantic, Gettysburg Review, Poetry, Slate, and Stand. Recent work appears (or is forthcoming) in Kenyon Review, New England Review, Southern Humanities Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Coal Hill Review, Plume, and elsewhere. Her new manuscript of poems is called Goodbye to the Poetry of Marble.