Winter Journal: The Sky Is the Lost Orpheum

By Emily Wilson b. 1968 Emily Wilson
The shelter of it carved, caved
Across the river, the park and the little Ferris wheel
       closed down
The great oaks emptying, russet, gusseted
the hovering slant light leaking from the outer edge
       of cloud bed
leads and shawls pulled forth
Thy synchrony of the lost elements recovered
the shivering water surfaces, planar unmeldings, remeldings,
       riverine alchemies, unlocketed selves
now the reemergence, the sun pouring global gold
       uptilted, gobleted, incanted
Am I not as God made me but stranger?
Made stranger still by what I have seen
at this hour of earth untended, unministered—
light caught up in the river’s grooved tread
That sun more like a mass grope out of emptiness
       and the black river weeds before it, torn and trained,
       rocketed and stark and stuck-to
The tall shadow of the willow grows forth
And the spare stems of the grasses and the rods of the mullein
And these are the stations of this river
The houses and the boats and the parked cars
The growing wedge the ducks make moving forward, the shape
       of the element there among the weeds that jut forward,
the mass of the willows growing deeper in green and sundering
The backfall of sun going downward
The surface of the river coming clear of its own admixture
The ducks moving over like slow planes in formation,
       barely seen needles hauling white threads,
       secretly heeding
The fish in my skin relinquishes
Will I know then what I have become?
The river darkens from its end of trees closing in
There is the sun and this deep depression
Exiting as viewed in this river

Emily Wilson, “Winter Journal: The Sky Is the Lost Orpheum” reprinted from The Keep. With permission Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001.

Source: The Keep (University of Iowa Press, 2001)

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Poet Emily Wilson b. 1968

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Winter, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals


Emily Wilson was born in Ohio and grew up in Maine; she was educated at Harvard University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her collections of poetry include The Keep (2001); Morpho terrestre (2006), a limited-edition book with prints by Sara Langworthy; and Micrographia (2009). Poet James Galvin noted in the Boston Review that Wilson’s poetry matches “wildness of diction with precision of sense.”
Wilson has . . .

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SUBJECT Winter, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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