Consciousness

By Joanie Mackowski b. 1963 Joanie Mackowski
How it is fickle, leaving one alone to wander

the halls of the skull with the fluorescents
softly flickering. It rests on the head

like a bird nest, woven of twigs and tinsel
and awkward as soon as one stops to look.
That pile of fallen leaves drifting from

the brain to the fingertip burned on the stove,

to the grooves in that man’s voice
as he coos to his dog, blowing into the leaves

of books with moonlit opossums
and Chevrolets easing down the roads
of one’s bones. And now it plucks a single

tulip from the pixelated blizzard: yet

itself is a swarm, a pulse with no
indigenous form, the brain’s lunar halo.

Our compacted galaxy, its constellations
trembling like flies caught in a spider web,
until we die, and then the flies

buzz away—while another accidental

coherence counts to three to pass the time
or notes the berries on the bittersweet vine

strewn in the spruces, red pebbles dropped
in the brain’s gray pool. How it folds itself
like a map to fit in a pocket, how it unfolds

a fraying map from the pocket of the day.

Source: Poetry (February 2012).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

February 2012
 Joanie  Mackowski

Biography

Joanie Mackowski’s collections of poems are The Zoo (2002) and View from a Temporary Window (2010). She received a BA from Wesleyan University, was a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and received a PhD from the University of Missouri. A professor at Cornell University, she has worked as a French translator, a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a juggler. She is the winner of the 2003 Kate Tufts . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.