Contents | May 2004
More on poetry from The Atlantic Monthly.
The Atlantic Monthly | May 2004
Hear the author read this poem (in RealAudio)
by Henri Cole
Opening your little gothic wings
on my whitewashed chest of drawers,
I almost fear you, as if today were my funeral.
Moment by moment, enzymes digest
your life into a kind of coffin liqueur.
Two flies, like coroners, investigate your feathers.
My clock is your obelisk, though only this morning
you lunged into my room, extravagant as Nero,
then, not seeing yourself in the sunlit glass,
struck it. Night—what beams does it clear away?
The rain falls. The sky is pained. All that breathes suffers.
Yet the waters of affliction are purifying.
The wounded soldier heals. There is new wine and oil.
Here, take my handkerchief as your hearse.
Henri Cole's most recent collection of poems, Middle Earth (2003), received the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award. He is the poet in residence at Smith College.
Copyright © 2004 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; May 2004; Dead Wren; Volume 293, No. 4; 66.