Eleanor Lerman


On a steel morning, when the sky is full of wreckage
When it offers a wrecked moon, light seeping from
         the void like gas
you are thrown from your bed again
         by one of those dreams
Arms as thin as paper, shoes a poor excuse,
you shuffle down the boulevards, the ruined lanes
where what is left was finally scattered:
         roses, opals, broken stars
But remember that you have been warned:
keep your head low, your mouth shut
No one has to know that you are as ready
         as you will ever be
Perhaps the city will not forgive you but
         we will, we will

Beloved, yes, it is more than mysterious
Yes, how long we have been waiting
for someone to remember who we are

Storm Country

Buckets of water, baby pails, tall golden glasses,
         streams, oceans,
a wet world, wet tickets, wet white chalk
on streaky slate imagines that
         we have a destination:
we are going north, we are going east,
we are going, we are going, in our rain hats,
in our difficult days. Medicine in our pockets,
         books in our bags,
pens and paper and pictures of the time

when we first woke up in the gray light
         with no more work to do
Thus are we off to the Maritimes, the Keys,
to Santa Fe or Vera Cruz. To the sun,
the pole or the equator, or maybe to the land
          of our dreamy dreams.
But what if all that happens is we exhaust ourselves
by cleaning out the downspouts, jumping over
puddles before we manage even a single mile?

Still will I buy you oranges at the station
A magazine, an airmail stamp, the paperback
         memoir of a spy
Why not? I always knew that this was dangerous,
that even if we put our heads down and made it
         through the years,
finally, there would come a rainy summer
when we would have to shut up the house,

and leave behind the girls we were, kissing in
         the hallway,
to follow the thunder and the lightning
         into the storm country
where even lesser weather must be faced
with courage, and face it: love like a locket
          tossed into the hurricane,
love like the wind that travels everywhere,
         that fights on, that holds out,
that when it’s old enough, will win

Eleanor Lerman is the author of two short story collections and five books of poetry, most recently, The Sensual World Re-Emerges from Sarabande Books. She has been nominated for a National Book Award, received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and won the 2006 Lenore Marshall Prize for the year’s best book of poetry.