The Bridge

By Lisa Jarnot b. 1967 Lisa Jarnot
That there are things that can never be the same about
my face, the houses, or the sand, that I was born under the
sign of the sheep, that like Abraham Lincoln I am serious
but also lacking in courage,
 
That from this yard I have been composing a great speech,
that I write about myself, that it’s good to be a poet, that I look
like the drawing of a house that was pencilled by a child,
that curiously, I miss him and my mind is not upon the Pleaides,
that I love the ocean and its foam against the sky,
 
That I am sneezing like a lion in this garden that he knows
the lilies of his Nile, distant image, breakfast, a flock of birds
and sparrows from the sky,
 
That I am not the husband of Cassiopeia, that I am not
the southern fish, that I am not the last poet of civilization,
that if I want to go out for a walk and then to find myself
beneath a bank of trees, weary, that this is the life that I had,
 
That curiously I miss the sound of the rain pounding
on the roof and also all of Oakland, that I miss the sounds of
sparrows dropping from the sky, that there are sparks behind
my eyes, on the radio, and the distant sound of sand blasters,
and breakfast, and every second of it, geometric, smoke
from the chimney of the trees where I was small,
 
That in January, I met him in a bar, we went
home together, there was a lemon tree in the back yard,
and a coffee house where we stood outside and kissed,
 
That I have never been there, curiously, and that it never was
the same, the whole of the island, or the paintings of the stars,
fatherly, tied to sparrows as they drop down from the sky,
 
O rattling frame where I am, I am where there are still
these assignments in the night, to remember the texture
of the leaves on the locust trees in August, under the
moonlight, rounded, through a window in the hills,
 
That if I stay beneath the pole star in this harmony of
crickets that will sing, the bird sound on the screen,
the wide eyes of the owl form of him still in the dark,
blue, green, with shards of the Pacific,
 
That I do not know the dreams from which I have come,
sent into the world without the blessing of a kiss, behind the
willow trees, beside the darkened pansies on the deck beside
the ships, rocking, I have written this, across the back of the
sky, wearing a small and yellow shirt, near the reptile house,
mammalian, no bigger than the herd,
 
That I wrote the history of the war waged between the
Peloponnesians and the south, that I like to run through
shopping malls, that I’ve also learned to draw, having been
driven here, like the rain is driven into things, into the
ground, beside the broken barns, by the railroad tracks,
beside the sea, I, Thucydides, having written this, having
grown up near the ocean.


Lisa Jarnot, "The Bridge" from Ring of Fire. Copyright © 2003 by Lisa Jarnot.  Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.

Source: Ring of Fire (Salt Publishing, 2003)

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Poet Lisa Jarnot b. 1967

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy

Poetic Terms Persona

 Lisa  Jarnot

Biography

Lisa Jarnot was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1967. After studying with the poet Robert Creeley at the University of Buffalo, she earned her MFA from Brown University. Her poetry is known for its startling yet inviting aesthetic. Jarnot has commented, “I think poems are always collage on some level… Collage is a way to force awareness out of the random flow of information that’s constantly bombarding us.” In addition to the . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Persona

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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