Tracings

By Michael Anania b. 1939 Michael Anania

The women were divided between regrets for the homes they had left and fear of the deserts and savages before them.
—Francis Parkman

nothing but this continent   
intent on its dismay—
hands, etc. bandaged,   
a torn petticoat fringed   
with lace, roseate frozen   
fingers, or elsewhere   
feet wrapped in burlap   
scuffing new snow

after the indigo of their tunics   
seeps back into the soil
this spring, the several springs’   
dulling thaw and incidental greenery

what marks they made were   
harrowed out by those who settled,   
so set themselves against the land

whether to keep the land   
open to passage
or parcel it to the plow   
Benton and Everett argued

“English tartars,” some said,
white savages to plunder the trade,   
“only farmer and tradesman stabilize”

his head raised slightly   
the dying woodsman   
views the open plains,

“flat water” squalls
spilling stiff grasses
into the small shade a stand   
of scrub trees gives his end

“huge skulls and whitening   
bones of buffalo   
were scattered everywhere”

the Conestoga’s canvas   
straining to the wind,   
the plow’s first bite,   
the first indenture   
of the rutted road,   
crossties set down,   
oil, asphalt glittering   
quartz aggregate to the sun

the harrow’s bright discs   
crumble the damp shine   
of the new furrow,
the wind dulls and sifts   
grassland into dust

two days in the storm cellar,   
wet rags to their faces,
the slatted door impacted   
with wet rags, dowery linens

strange light at the cyclone’s   
onset, a cupped brightness   
edging banks of dark clouds,   
fields darkening in lines   
of gathering dust, section   
on section spilling eastward,

a straw drilled through a tree,   
a team of mules transported   
forty miles intact

a dream of transport, Dorothy   
soaring on the wind, becalmed   
in still another summer, lost,   
follows billboards and Burma Shave   
into the city’s ragged sprawl

Uptown or Lakeview, five
children in three rooms, A.D.C.,   
weathers like unpainted wood,   
stacked porches where her laundry
tatters with city grit, bars   
haunted by banjo music

everybody talks of home
as though it were the sparkle   
of an earlier dream, a glint
of rainwater in someone’s hair,   
names you can’t remember,   
old photographs gone brown   
with age, a man and woman,   
faces obscured by broad hats,   
a bare tree beside them,
the bare distances empty   
and faded into the sky

Oxus, Phasis, Palmyra—
Oz encased in glass,
“variegated with fields and meadows”   
store window dioramas
display the life and manners
of high-rise glass apartments—
The El Dorado, Malibu East
warm winters, cool summers   
high above the city’s noise

clouds move in facets   
across their polished faces,   
tipped red at sunset, presiding
over a close-set clutter   
of flat, graveled roofs

graceful as mannequins   
they are laughing into
the summer evening, women   
bright as spring flowers,   
in autumn’s colors,
warmed and smiling,   
they talk of love
before a dying fire

gray as she is, aging,   
she fingers the pictures   
of ladies’ magazines,   
fingers, as well, pictures   
she brought from home

the red flowers on the floor   
wear into black treads, black   
dust comes in at her windows

his weapons arranged at his side,   
the sun darkening his sight,   
Cooper contrived his death   
in alien spaces; Boone finished   
his days on a crumbling porch   
that fronted on the open West

Michael Anania, “Tracings” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by Michael Anania. Used by permission of Asphodel Press/Acorn Alliance.

Source: Selected Poems (1994)

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Poet Michael Anania b. 1939

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Living, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Growing Old, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Michael  Anania

Biography

In the afterword to his first book, the 1969 New Poetry Anthology, Michael Anania wrote, "There is little evidence that modernism is dead or even dying. The tradition of Pound, Eliot, Williams, Stevens and their contemporaries is very much alive." Anania's importance as a poet lies in how he preserves and develops this modernist tradition in American poetry. A deep commitment to modernism and the tradition of experimental, often . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Living, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Growing Old, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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