Closing Hours

By Ann Lauterbach b. 1942 Ann Lauterbach
This trace, if it exists, is alms for delusion.   
An arch uncurls from the floor
scented with the scent of a tapestry, housed here.   
I recall the hour but not its passage
unless dream captures and ties it to sleep:
a fat bellhop smiles, shows me to the tower   
where I can watch the departure.
But some days settle so that nothing
crosses the horizon; stare as I will, no star   
needles the air. Now I am left
on the outskirts of a forest hemmed in by wheat   
where plump trees hide the image, its symmetry   
shot up and blown across the ground like feathers.   
The unicorn, the grail, blue and red wings   
of kneeling musicians, these are embroidered   
elsewhere. Perseverance was crowned.
Hope and Pity prayed for success.
How fast is this camera? Can it record a trace?   
There was a voyage. Four mounted horses   
strain against centuries.
To each is allotted: dust kicked up, smoke, plumage.

Ann Lauterbach, “Closing Hours” from Before Recollection. Copyright © 1987 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

Source: If In Time: Selected Poems 1975-2000 (Penguin Books, 2001)

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Poet Ann Lauterbach b. 1942

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Ann  Lauterbach


Poet Ann Lauterbach work has been compared to the poetry of John Ashbery and Barbara Guest. She has published several volumes of poetry, including Many Times, but Then (1979), Before Recollection (1987), Clamor (1991), And for Example (1994), On a Stair (1997), If in Time (2001), Hum (2005) and Or to Begin Again (2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. If in Time, a volume of her selected poetry, demonstrates . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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