Two Poems

Photograph: Clarence Hudson White, “The Mirror,” 1912

By Ann Howells

Fixed Stars

I know nothing. But you know,
seem to know, everything. 
Don’t look away –
I’ll have no regrets, 

will remember May’s gold-drenched hours
hillside quilted with poppies, 
grasses pliant beneath me,
swollen river rushing with spring, 
you stroking my skin. 

Don’t look away –
Memories can be sweet, 

I’ll recount them as blessings, 
remember scattered pieces, scraps,
a patchwork quilt unstitched:
gentle fingered leaves of the willow,
curve-winged swifts scything sky. 
Your sacred tongue,
offers no promises, warns  
passion is fleeting, 
pain is as valid as pleasure. 
You know, 
seem to know, everything. 
Don’t look away –
I’ll have no regrets. 
Weightless and Invisible
The trip back to school
seems a sort of time travel –
perhaps by the time I arrive
I’ll be innocent once more:
all white blouse, knee socks, loafers,
carrying an armful of schoolbooks.
there is something to be said
for a life unpossessed
and unpossessing.
Outside the window
in heavy autumnal rain
two umbrellas pass –
one large and purple,
the other a frivolous fuchsia
emblazoned with yellow ducks.
I will huddle in my faded quilt,
go from glorious summer
to drear winter overnight.

Waking in the Mirror

A crack halves my mirror,
I view reflections at minimally different angles:
woman I am, girl I used to be. 
Indigo encroaches autumn sky,
long fingers of twilight,
and the river glistens dark,
glittered with reflections like scattered stars
as though I look down on the heavens.
	In twos and threes
	egrets pass overhead,
	white nuns 
	in long black stockings.
	They glow from within,
	dazzling and numinous. 
I am bundled in time rather than quilts –
shed grief like layers of an onion.
I am better than I could be,
worse than I had hoped.