Jane Craven – Two Poems
Explain something to me,
where first you
furrow your brow and look up
as if the answer
is floating above you.
Untease some thorny problem
where there’s a rabbit
at the heart of it, and where
candlelight figures in
and makes the shadows
jump. Stay with me in the story
even when we stumble
upon a Victorian mansion
gutted, full of darting cats,
rotten corbel in the grass,
gutter that swings wide like
a gangplank. Just tell me,
if we’re dreaming
or not. Your answer rises
above the curve of morning
linens, snapped and blown
into clouds. See how the winds
unravel them above us
until they are no more
than threads drifting
as we settle in our bed,
in summer, at the center
of the world
Start with nature. The trees were
tall. Some dropped their leaves.
There was a creek, a field, nights
interrupted by quickening stars.
I had a child’s grasp of everyday
frailty, sensed the collective sorrow
of the steam iron, of harvest gold
appliances, the endless slipstream
of dirty laundry, understood
why my mother found someone
poorer than us to help care
for my siblings and me. Her name
was Winifred and we adored her.
She had a narrow waist, straightened
hair, smelled of Ajax and rosewater
and she adored heroin. Blue
soaked into the sky that morning
we waited in the station wagon,
our mother knocking at the door
of a dead twenty-six year old.
Decades later, I found a photograph
of her death certificate on the internet.
Ink spatters flew across the words
‘heart failure’ like a flock of starlings.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
Beauty is a tug on a fishing line, seeing what you caught, but mostly, taking out the hook and letting it go.
Jane Craven lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and has worked in systems development for AT&T and as the director of a contemporary art museum. She is currently an applicant for MFA – Poetry programs and has work forthcoming in The Texas Review, Still Journal, Cold Mountain Review and Euonia.