Semblance: Screens

By Liz Waldner Liz Waldner
A moth lies open and lies
like an old bleached beech leaf,
a lean-to between window frame and sill.
Its death protects a collection of tinier deaths
and other dirts beneath.
Although the white paint is water-stained,
on it death is dirt, and hapless.

The just-severed tiger lily
is drinking its glass of water, I hope.
This hope is sere.
This hope is severe.
What you ruin ruins you, too
and so you hope for favor.
I mean I do.

The underside of a ladybug
wanders the window. I wander
the continent, my undercarriage not as evident,
so go more perilously, it seems to me.
But I am only me; to you it seems clear
I mean to disappear, and am mean
and project on you some ancient fear.

If I were a bug, I hope I wouldn’t be
this giant winged thing, spindly like a crane fly,
skinny-legged like me, kissing the cold ceiling,
fumbling for the face of the other, seeking.
It came in with me last night when I turned on the light.

I lay awake, afraid it would touch my face.

It wants out. I want out, too.
I thought you a way through.
Arms wide for wings,
your suffering mine, twinned.
Screen. Your unbelief drives me in,
doubt for dirt, white sheet for sill—
You don’t stay other enough or still
enough to be likened to.

Source: Poetry (September 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2009

Biography

Liz Waldner grew up in rural Mississippi and earned a BA in mathematics and philosophy at St. John’s College and an MFA at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her first book of poetry, Homing Devices (1998), came after an 18-year silence; since then, Waldner has published prolifically. Her recent books include A Point Is That Which Has No Part (2000), which won both the Iowa Poetry Prize and the James Laughlin Award, Self and Simulacra . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Men & Women, Nature, Animals, Religion, Faith & Doubt

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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