Gradations of Blue

By Matthea Harvey b. 1973 Matthea Harvey
The scent of pig is faint tonight
as the lime trees hang their heads against gradations of blue,

looking at the lone suitcase in the middle of the farmyard
with a sense of solidarity. Also forgotten.

Its owner never once looked up at them and exclaimed
I was still soft-fingered when I planted you.

In the plane, her gaze rests on a flock of cloud-birds,
pinkish purple with elongated necks, rests

on the plane’s wing-tip colored pink by the sun.
Her head is heavy with this childhood cargo,

like the hawk that usually flies between or above their branches,
found skimming the ground with its catch of mouse or mole,   

or the barge that passes every day at four, its metal nose
just out of the water, while empty at eight, its sleek sides

flash signals to those on shore. Later, on the highway
a row of trucks lit like orange squares in the setting sun—

a colony of ants each with a piece of chrysanthemum
on their backs—begins to reassemble memories;

the petals become lining, the shape of the flower is lost,
so that years later, looking at an old photograph,

she will not remember the names of cousins and uncles
but the exact bend in the river behind them, the pattern of trees.

“Gradations of Blue” from Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form. © 2000 by Matthea Harvey. Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books.

Source: Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books, 2000)

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Poet Matthea Harvey b. 1973

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Growing Old, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Mythology & Folklore

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

 Matthea  Harvey

Biography

Matthea Harvey was born in Germany, spent her childhood in England, and moved to Milwaukee with her family when she was eight years old. She attended Harvard as an undergraduate and the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Iowa. Her collections of poems include Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (2000), Sad Little Breathing Machine (2004), Modern Life (2007), Of Lamb (2011), and If the Tabloids . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Mythology & Folklore

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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