Poetry: Kristina Marie Darling



Our train was the first to leave. My formulation of the question, a small bird splayed on the tracks. Now the memory of the memory of a landscape. That sheet of ice holding everything in place. The felled tree the telephone wires an entire snow-covered field. The car and its passengers. Yes. There is an elegance to the way one strikes a match. Line of smoke against a reflection of the shore, the little sea as it darkens. Each of the flowers lit as if from the inside.


The whole time we’re speaking, your other wife traces figures in the sand. Little hourglass atop Rousseau’s desk, logic and its raptures. How cold the light is as it strikes the coast. The insides of the flowers have gone dark and now their mouths are frozen shut. Dear ______, dear impossibility, dear husband, this is your atoll. A low sky murmurs just above us and none of the ships will ever make it back to the dock. Snow falls on the other wife, on your small white boat, on the ice. When you look away from the ocean, I do my best to hold still. I try to ache more beautifully.


And so your little gesture didn’t mean anything after all. I had an entire drawer of what I called “relics,” but in reality they were worthless. There is nothing like the ocean. Still we bury the coast in debris. Before long, I’m standing on a precipice formed by objects from our past. You traipse through a little ditch to gather the last of the furniture, but the tides have torn up the upholstery and shattered the glass doors of your grandmother’s hutch. Now all you can offer me is time. More specifically, the lawyer has only one appointment remaining, and it isn’t until after the court hearing. Along the shore the pelicans are the only thing more astonishing than I had ever imagined. Those tiny messengers, their parched throats trembling, all feather and bone.

Author PhotoKristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books of poetry. Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University’s Kittredge Fund. Her poems and essays appear in The Gettysburg Review, New American Writing, The Mid-American Review, The Iowa Review, The Columbia Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is currently working toward both a PhD in Literature at SUNY-Buffalo and an MFA in Poetry at New York University.