Back to Issue Thirty-Seven

The Present Speaks of Past Pain



It’s that hour of dusk
when the sky is awash
in waning light, when, if we might

forgive each other, this would be
the hour for it.

I lay down beneath a yellow tree.

I understood I could hold onto the past
or be happy.

Then, nothing. You did not appear to me.

The sky filled with stars
that had been there already.



Dream Vision



A long tradition of hallucinations,
flocks in patterns that silence
the augur.

The dream tents in Gilgamesh Enkidu built
en route to Cedar Forest
so the signs would find them.

It was visions of passion I most feared,
your hands at my waist, my chin
at your shoulder—

your breath just once and I’d have been done for,
awake enough to know how grim
a dream could be.

Would have forfeit North—I’d have been
like Gilgamesh above
the slaughtered flesh

of the Bull of Heaven, dreaming his love
with a herd at night before sending
the body down the river.

I thought absence was a heartline flatlined
by distance, but nothing is nowhere,
no place is empty of you.

For each day you have not written, a large ship
has floated up the driveway; no one
has boarded or come off.



Maya C. Popa is the author of American Faith (Sarabande Books, 2019) winner of the 2020 North American Book Prize from the Poetry Society of Virginia. She is the Poetry Reviews Editor of Publishers Weekly and a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is writing on the role of wonder in poetry.

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