by Linda Bierds

For warmth in that Swedish winter, the child,
aged one, wore petticoats hooked from angora,
knotted and looped to a star-shaped weave.
And for her father, there at the well lip,
she did seem to float in the first magnitude --
upright, far down the cylindric dark,
with the star of her petticoats
buoyantly rayed on the black water.
One foot in the water bucket, one foot
glissading a brickwork of algae, he stair-stepped
down, calling a bit to her soft cries, while
his weight, for neighbors working the tandem crank,
appeared, disappeared, like a pulse.
In bottom silt, the mottled snails
pulled back in their casings
as her brown-shoed legs lifted, the image
for them ancient, limed with departure:
just a shimmer of tentacles
as the skirt of a mantle collapsed
and a shape thrust off toward answering shapes,
there, and then not, above.

Linda Bierds is the director of the writing program at the University of Washington in Seattle and a MacArthur Foundation fellow.

All material copyright © 2000 . All rights reserved.


Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus


How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.


Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.


The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.


Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.


Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses


Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In