Habitats


Moon, nails, a cradle of pine needles.  Foraged from the nocturnal tree.  Pure milk flushes glass.  Running down the wooden trough, a sort of clear water.  A house as surrogate for kindness.  Each beam a secret custody.  The child with her dark tail and fur, smallest of eyes travelling sightless.  Inside the rafters a series of crystals revolving light.  Air too uncolored in the shallows. Shivering now.  Beeswax for warmth, tallow, mutton fat, a keen axe.



The cage of water, bouncing back a color.  Slice of a smile, a sectional.  Gray washing and swept.  At the still center, she is using her body wrong.  Back and forth splayed, errant in her airless instrument.  Her eyes alive in the refracted liquid, which catches the cry aslant. A medicinal smell. Arms clear a nest that filters light into slurred waves. Violent animation in shoulders and back, downward to leaden bone. Surfacing transparent, now tendered.



Down the tree to a lake where the song called Lucy follows. A kind of recognition or habit, sung in two clear notes. Purple loosestrife for honey in wintertime, fishnets tied on the woodposts, a cheerful hat stuffed with briony. A charming plan, to wade among cattails & into the lay-down boat, an inlet to thought. Now out of earshot, amiable porches and tender friends. Glancing nests and branches, everything sways, retreats, the shallow bottom deepens in silhouettes. Now rest your head, Lucy. Sundown, a hand stopping up a cry. Unlearn the light as form repeats. Black waves pulsing along the throat.



A bird the child resembles transposed into a bed of feathers. Thistle, mercury, vicodin. Aglow with a drift of gridlock. Then greenery to crawl inside and go soundless. A coverlet of old songs, unsung. Floating because motion is common. The child’s breath, a lushness when even skin turns inward. She cannot feel you now. The air channeled or filling in, cool in hollowed-out corners. What she feels is a window.



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Margaret Ronda's book of poems, Personification, was selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the Saturnalia Books poetry prize and was published in 2010. Her poems have been published in Aufgabe, Pool, AGNI, Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, and other journals. She teaches American poetry at University of California-Davis.