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,   
knowing,
unknowable, on that sky shore.

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

Trust me!
truth-
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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