archives winter 2008




An owl calls from the shadows
ahead where dark crosses the mountain.

The owl’s not asking, he just carves air
as all music carves air.

Hunger makes the owl’s cries hollow.
How to go where his call carries me—

away from my room, its lamp and book,
its glass of flowers, slippers and medicines.

Up from the sea a candled moon rises.



Here are eight laurel leaves
from the Djerassi forest.

A feather, a foxglove,
the trace of a hoof print.

Here is my breast in your hand.
Here is the thrum of my heart.

The live oak claims the field.
I sleep dreamless in these mountains.


In This House of Broken Sticks and Feathers

I am fulfilling her ravenous losses.
She rides me, gestures through my hands,
seizes control of my legs, my shoulders.
Three years she lay nearly unmoving,
when they put food in her mouth
she tongued it down her throat, reflex
of an infant, sleeping. Now her years
spin back through me, she is the woman
whose hands begin to gnarl, whose skin
is blotchy, whose bladder’s leaky.
I speak her, she speaks me, my beloved
whom I watched and could not talk to,
whom I bought tapes of music she could
not hear, who lay three years unappeasable.  
Catching her back from the dead, catching her
filling me, I say again mama, and such grief,
I can’t go to her, tell her I know
how she was lonely.


Leise Rieselt der Schnee

Leise rieselt der Schnee, the boys’ choir sings
in the Fribourg cathedral: quietly the snow
sprinkles over the streets, against the windows
and doorsteps of these old clustered buildings,

and drifts against the cliffs cut by the river,
mounds like a little hat on the glass-covered
photograph nailed in the rock, of Margrit
Imfeld, age nine, killed thirty years ago

by a falling, thigh-thick icicle. Once,
a child, I stood in my mother’s kitchen
in Pennsylvania, and listened to this
same carol she loved, the boys’ voices

on the record clear as new-rung crystal.
Beside myself with tenderness, I began
to sweep the room. My mother, baby Jesus—
with every broom stroke I told myself,

This is my gift for them. Now Margrit gazes out
at the trout ponds emptied for winter,
the fir trees clinging to the river bank,
the trail wandering off into the snowy mountains.  


Ann Fisher-Wirth is author of Blue Window (Archer Books, 2003) and Five Terraces (Wind Publications, 2005). She has also published two chapbooks: The Trinket Poems (Wind, 2003, runner-up for the Quentin R. Howard poetry chapbook award) and Walking Wu-Wei's Scroll (online, The Drunken Boat, 2005).  Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Blackbird, The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, Runes, and Poetry International.  She has won a Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, the Rita Dove Poetry Award, two Mississippi Arts Commission fellowships, and the Poetry Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. She received six Pushcart nominations and a Pushcart Special Mention. She teaches at the University of Mississippi.