Back to Issue Thirty-One

2/1 from Ambient 1


after Brian Eno

This is the space between water
                                          and frozen water,
                where I woke on the morning of our first snow.

Reveling in a change of season,
                                                    in a change of scenery,
                I wrote a letter on beauty.

But I had no motor to keep those tones
                                                               going and now
                this frigid, cracking glass won’t leave.

How does one sustain this?
                                                    This is the space
                where I write it all down,

where I try to remember,
                                          but can only freeze things,
                can only make them still.

In this scene
                               I stand over a sinkful of tresses,
                ice clings to the panes

and later, I fall in love.
                               When I had long hair, I could hide in it.
                In this scene

drafts seep through your window.
                                                    There are tiny tealights,
                my hands are too cold

and we laugh and laugh.
                                                               This hollow ring
                only fingers circling thin rims,

a sustain I cannot capture.
                                                    In this scene
                I am in the empty kitchen

filling egg cartons
                                          with cold water. Here I am
                freezing things again.

This is the space
                               for low tones, for the strings
                of the old piano

that, unraveled, rattle
                                          as I tiptoe across the floor—the music
                of a house asleep in winter.




Rachel Harkai earned an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. A finalist for the 2019 National Poetry Series, she was runner-up for the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest, and has been the recipient of a Kresge Artist Fellowship and four Hopwood awards for poetry and nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in Narrative, Salmagundi, Michigan Quarterly Review, DIAGRAM, Smartish Pace, Hotel Amerika, Portland Review, and elsewhere. Harkai currently serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for Room Project, a space for women and non-binary writers in Detroit.

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