Clade Song 4 Banner

Clade Song 4

Ars Poetica
Always a world at the edge
           Of a gatehouse
                      Always syntax             
           A password
I am between
           Idioms for family
                       Home a kind of heaven
           I search for daily
There are markers on birch trees     
           Their paper skins
                       Seem to spell and dispel
           It’s not lonely along the way
There is a woman silhouetted
           Behind sheets on a clothesline
                       Wind moves her face closer
           Then farther from me
The sun is on her side
           Always small towns on the way
                       To always a place waiting
           For a name I go
Here is not my home
           But I recognize the sounds
                       A bus passes
           Gravel litters a paved road
Kids holler from windows
           We’re almost there!
                       As they point at the town’s edge
           Examine what it isn’t
I might not follow
            Brick sidewalks
                        Leading to towns
            I’ve known well
I might follow the line
            Of the river
                       That also knows
           My name             
Traces away
            Through tangles
                        Of branches
            Washed ashore
What I fear most isn’t the current
I'll say it now    
           I've never known the truth
                       About stars    
           Never known why they hide  
I confess    
           It pleases me
                       For a moment   terror
           Of birds
Banners the sky
           Dusk sets in
                        Starting with my eyes  
           What I look for changes
And what I rely on
            That changes also
                        An array of objects
           Still in the making
The river’s spine
            A high tide
                         The sea
            Covering and recovering
What can’t be
            Destroyed the past
                        I’ve given up for now
The wind blows
            It doesn’t
                        Stop for me

Nicole Tong Nicole Tong teaches college writing in Northern Virginia. Her work has been published in American Book Review, Red Rock Review, and Yalobusha Review, among others. She is the recipient of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize in Lyric Poetry, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and fellowships from George Mason University's MFA program and the Vermont Studio Center. When the mood strikes, she spends entire days hiking or running.
“Ars Poetica” is the result of a long walk in the writer's hometown of Jacksonville, North Carolina.