A Garden of Anchors: Selected Poems Poem Text

A Garden of Anchors: Selected Poems Poem Text


what you offer us --
a soap bubble
a glass thread --
what you place
in open hands --
one branch
of one snow fleck
a sliver
of smoke

and if and if
the offering bursts
if the smoke
is swallowed in the night

we lift
the barricades
we take the edges
of our transience
we bury the ashes
of our wording
and sift
the silences


if when you are holding a
hand mirror when you are
sitting in the front seat of a car
and the mirror breaks
you must stop everything quickly
step on the brakes
leap from the car

if when you are holding in
your arms a mirror and you
feel the glass sudden in your veins
if your throat bleeds with
brittle words and
you hear in the distance the
ambulance siren

if your mirror bnreaks into
a tittering sound of tinkling glass
and you see the highway stretch
into a million staring splinters
you must stop everything gently
wait for seven long years
under a sky of whirling wheels

if your mirror breaks
oh if your mirror breaks


where there's a wall
there's a way
around, over, or through
there's a gate
maybe a ladder
a door
a sentinel who
sometimes sleeps
there are secret passwords
you can overhear
there are methods of torture
for extracting clues
to maps of underground passageways
there are zepplins
helicopters, rockets, bombs
bettering rams
armies with trumpets
whose all at once blast
shatters the foundations

where there's a wall
there are words
to whisper by a loose brick
wailing prayers to utter
special codes to tap
birds to carry messages
taped to their feet
there are letters to be written
novels even

on this side of the wall
I am standing staring at the top
lost in the clouds
I hear every sound you make
but cannot see you

I incline in the wrong direction
a voice cries faint as in a dream
from the belly
of the wall


I have a peculiar
leaf shaped ears
my fur is
forest coloured

when your flesh
first uttered words
I lost understanding

you said I attend
stone and not flesh
source and not blood
bread and not bone

your flesh
your blood
your bone

which brings you to
mistrust of me

and all the while
the stone bleeds
the source calls your name
the bread is broken

but you cannot see
or hear
or taste

listen then, my love,
to the wind blowing
and the sound of breath
over the grassy forest floor

but know I did not bend
to the right or to the left
all the while
that I loved you

Joy Kogawa

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