Half an Hour

By Jean Valentine b. 1934 Jean Valentine
Hurt, hurtful, snake-charmed,
struck white together half an hour we tear   
through the half-dark after

some sweet core,   
under, over gravity,   
some white shore ...

spin, hidden one, spin,
trusted to me! laugh sore tooth   
sucked warm, sweet; sweet wine

running cool through new
dry shrewd turnings of my soul,   
opening veins.

Gull-feathers beating,   
beating! Gliding. Still,   
sidelong eye ... wings beating

like words against my eyes.   
And your eyes—
o brother-animal, mild,

terrible!—your eyes wait, have been waiting,   
unknowable, on that sky shore.

A life is waiting.   
Its webbed hand   
reached out ...

Trust me!
telling fish of the sky!

your hand beyond my hand,   
your phosphorous trail   
broken, lost.

Jean Valentine, “Half an Hour” from Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003. Copyright © 2004 by Jean Valentine. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003 (Wesleyan University Press, 2004)

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Poet Jean Valentine b. 1934

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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