Anne Myles recently retired from the University of Northern Iowa, where she was an Associate Professor of English. She is working on an MFA in poetry at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have appeared in journals including North American Review, Friends Journal, Lavender Review, Isacoustic, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, and Whale Road Review.
A White Heron
By Anne Myles
If I told you of driving through these fields
in the harshest February,
how it all unsettles, the fences drowned
in billows and swales of snow
interspersed with shelter-belts of pines
so dark they are green’s black
And if I told you about wind turbines
white on a white sky, tri-victory,
how their wing-blades churn the air--
how sleek they are, how lonely
they could make you think of a weapon
or a long-legged bird
and how these, if anything, are meant to save us
If I told you, would you see it too
and could you tell me then the secret
of how it came to be mine, city girl
not knowing the names of things,
tell me the truth of where we are?
Oh bring me gifts and graces
of a late season’s desolation:
I swear to you that I will not betray
By Anne Myles
Ten now, we glided on the frozen lake,
my friend and I. Why were there no adults?
Our ankles wobbled on wind-rippled tumult.
Far off, near shore, I saw the pool of black.
“Come on, let’s go see the clear ice!” I called,
eager for that difference, slick and dark,
a lens where you could see down to the muck,
depths dizzying green in summer, another world,
now crystalline, unmoving, leaf-steeped brown.
But the ice was dark from being barely frozen;
coming first to it, in a moment I was in.
No ground beneath, I treaded water, somehow
half-calm and almost warm in my wool coat,
as in the odd suspension of a dream.
The edge broke beneath my arms until it seemed
it would never hold. It did; she hauled me out.
A change of clothes and we went on. Yet now
I think of chill, lassitude, and slowing breath;
perhaps the closest time I skirted death
but strangely harmless still. What lies below
is what persists, as if this life is what was meant:
how something never planned would open wide,
immersing me within the stinging cold
of a foreign, deep, and penetrating element.
By Anne Myles
The sparrow outside the window
can feel the twig gripped in his feet
whether he notices or not
as he hunts for berry-shine
Whether I think of it or not
sitting here this moment
I can feel my heart-hunger
also from the inside
A strand of Virginia creeper
grips the bark of the oak trunk
with its tiny rootlets
its ferocious desire to climb
Whether the vine or tree feel it
is something we don’t know
yet it is happening the same
as it happened, say, in 1860,
while a mayfly and a soldier somewhere
went still, though no one watched
and Emily heard without attending
the faint scratch of her quill
as she wrote circumference