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Sample Poems by Gwen Hart

Upon Receiving a Box of Pears

The joy
of a looked-for parcel is the sweet
expectation of a lover’s skin—
the nape of his neck, her thigh. Our palms
at the possibility of touch. Pears!

—each one a crude prayer,
necks tapered where once joined
to the branch, hips supple with the bruise-brushed
subtleties of the real. A friend has sent
us twelve palms
full, a dozen skeins

wound asymmetrically, skins
tinged green, flushed rose like the paired
ruby-throats that blur the clematis’s thin palms.
Palming them, we enjoy
the sweet
impossibility of cradling lush

bird-color in our hands. Blushed
ripe, gently textured as a tongue, the pear skin
gives way to scent.
A liquid chamber opens, the air
dispersing the joy
molecules released by our mouths. Our palms

fill; sticky pools trickle from our palms
down. Flush
with the table, my elbows drip clear joy-
notes. I skim
your wrist with my fingertips, compare
a kiss with a succulent mouthful, sweet
 pear sweat
mingling with our own. My palms
under your shirt, I follow the imper-
fect curve of your shoulder. Flush
with the novelty of it, skin to skin,
we devour the fruit and each other’s joy.

You come—sweet flush
of infusion—pear flesh crushed between our palms,
pure, skinless joy.

What is Required

Turn off the radio,
shut out the neighbors’

drunken fights. Leave
your dishes in the sink.

Call up the smoky
hours just before nightfall

when the blue fog
spreads out over the length

of the evening until
nothing is certain.

Subtract one or two
stripes from the Bodie

Island Lighthouse, forget
that line of tree-tops

frozen in mid-swing.
Only then will that gray

animal—fox or raccoon—
take shape at the far edge

of the field. Do not frighten
it with words. Let it creep

along the marsh grass
until it becomes your

own breath, rank
and wild, full of life.

At Run Hill State Park

You can see water from here,
but you can't touch it.
That's the way memory
works, the glistening blue
spreads out beyond snarled
thoughts of the present.
Often there's a boat, filled
with faces we ought to remember
the names of, people lowering
fishing hooks into the water's
bright surface, searching
for objects we've lost
or forgotten. Perhaps our parents
are out there and our grandparents
and the fishing boat is a harbor
for those who have drowned.

 Love Poem Without Flowers

Calcified petals
rubbed from white
down to the blue
or purple quick

glisten in this warm
slash of surf.
Mosaics centered
with thumbnail-thin

buttons of sea
glass stare us right
in the eyes and swear
to be trillium or ox-eye.

A five-pointed
bouncing bet walks
off its stem
into the Atlantic.

My body grown easy
as a just-picked
daisy, I cover you
with my fragrance of salt.


Not the lightning-bright strokes or the high
spokes of stars like the sun bursting
in on the night—surprise!—but the sigh
afterward, the slowly sinking ring
of embers, this I love. The glow
that radiates from my center to
my toes as we lie in bed, slowly
recovering from making love, too
stunned to talk, the imprint of you burned
into my eyes like a spotlight flashed
across a field, then gone, or a barn
turned to flame and lost, warm ash
raining down, covering our skin,
while we do nothing but breathe in.


Each morning at the beach
people search the empty
stretches for treasure, reach

their hands in, pull peach
pits out and cans, empty
each one. Mourning the beach's

lost promise, seagulls screech
for scraps of food, empty
stretch after stretch of treasure. Reach

and let go, says the tide, each
wave a wave of empti-
ness these mornings at the beach.

I learn to love the bleached
sand's color, let my mind empty,
stretch. I let each want go, reach

up like a spinnaker to leach
light from the otherwise empty
sky. Each morning at the beach,
this open, outstretched reach.

 Standing Watch

at the former site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

In the ordinary light
of this ordinary morning,
the beach yields something new—
a fine crosshatching of seaweed
arranged by the night tide.
The subtle, light green
patterns mimic
meandering seagull tracks,
but these we can disassemble
and carry home in our pockets.
It's as if they were placed here
so we would find them
and begin to know,
through such minutiae of composition,
that each strand is tended,
not abandoned,
that the watch is kept.