Turning Point




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Sample Poems by Anne Harding Woodworth

One-Eyed Carp at the Deli

She slow-swims close to the sides
of the aquarium. Parallel to herself,
confident of direction.
Her good eye against the glass
sees her self-eye sidewise,
the other eye, tight membrane,
sightless against place,
which is a china castle set on
dyed-blue stones in forests of green
for oxygen in a watery confine.

If my eyes were where my ears are,
hurt would be invisible for me, too.
Pain lies in front, dead on.

If I close one eye, it's all flatness-
no perspective of pastrami, herring, lettuce,
slaw, the slices and the knives-
as if they paper a wall without texture.
With both eyes open, I look down
a road-like counter that recedes
into its own disappearance,
and I perceive the vanishing, head on.

Glass Eyes in the Museum Case

If eyes make up a face,
only half a face decomposes
and is buried deep
with the flesh and bones
of those who didn't see
perspective's 3rd dimension.

With one good eye, not two,
what does a person see?
How flat the planet really is.
Depth is overlooked
without an f-stop.

And here the eyes that didn't see
endure, all of glass, blues
and browns, even bloodshot
for the rheumy prince,
irises that eddy in the spheres.

Looking for What a Slave Wore
Lord, I'm standing here wondering,
will a matchbox hold my clothes?

sung by Ma Rainey, 1923

The museum is looking for slave clothes,
which are hard to find. They turned into rags
and evaporated long ago. Their holes widened
beyond the coarse fabric, dull plaids and checks,
till they became the air that fed the flame.

So yes, of course they'll fit in a matchbox, Lord.

And we will all try to wear what was worn,
the frocks and breeches sewn by the owned seamstress.
We will wear what was worn until we're unclothed at last,
when we see each other, all of us, in broad daylight
and the search will be over.

Greek Urn on a Greek Urn
a black & white-figured red urn, Corfu

See the picture of a black & white
urn painted here on the side of a red urn,
like a play within a play.

See the black and white against the red:
how tenderly colors share surfaces.
Look at the story circling this red urn:

See the white face in profile
of a richly draped woman, her arm pointing
in anger at the black & white urn.

White, too, the hair of the old African,
who rests on a rock, his white beard
seeming to move on his chin with his every word,

and his eyes pleading as he tries to explain.
She snarls her warning of punishment
for his dallying, when he should have been carrying-

should have carried by now-
the simple black & white urn back to the store room.
Of course she too belongs to the threat,

but unlike him she's oblivious
to her own imprisonment on the side of an urn,
caught in a clash that will endure for centuries.

Krakow: Street Art, 2006

The sound of the 6th Commandment sweeps
with the wind that moves around Kazimierz,
poring over the empty figures we see chalked
on the concrete walls like the work
of homicide detectives, their outlines white
and powdery, ephemeral bodies from the past,
to be washed away with the gentlest of rain.

That's how easily oblivion drains
into what is already an abyss.
And yet after-images on the inner eye
keep the forgetting at bay,
not unlike the Ferber plaque that lists
the eighty-eight from one family murdered.