Poetry Fiction 2010

Varenna

Smothered up in gauze, the sky’s
             been healing for a week or

two, conserving its basin of gruel.
             The shops have closed

in sympathy. The ferry’s ministrations
             barely mark the hour. And just

when we’d convinced ourselves that
             beauty unsubdued betrays

a coarsened mind, the fabric starts
             to loosen, lift, and daylight,

all unblighted, takes a gaudy good-
             night bow. What sodden

indistinction just an hour ago had all
             but persuaded us not to

regret resumes its first divisions:
             slate from cinder, ash

from smoke, warm dapple-gray from
             moleskin, dove- from

Quaker-gray from taupe, until
             the blackwater satins unroll their

gorgeous lengths above a sharpening
             partition of lake-and-loam.

Give up yet? says the cirro-strato-sable
             brush. Then watch

what I can do with orange. And,
             floodlit, ink-besotted, so

assails the upper atmosphere that
             all our better judgment

fails. The Alps? They’ve seen it all
             before. They’ve flattened

into waiting mode. The people?
             Flat bedazzled. But,

in fairness, had a shorter way to fall.

Linda Gregerson’s most recent collection, Magnetic North, was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She teaches at the University of Michigan.
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