Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Poems: "Counting Towards Sleep" -- by Nance Van Winckel

From my four corners the grey cranes appear
   and, as if wingless, march off like old
   soldiers, their rifle-beaks bobbing up the walls
   high into the blue shadows of sleep.

I add up the simple sadnesses of their leaving.
   Beneath each of us the earth's deep fires
   breathe in, then burn brighter with every sudden
   rift, ever little addition fo gritty fuel.

And now I sink down upon it all: the fallen birds,
   our warm pallet of earth. And soon the stream
    lies down through me. Rattling and spewing, it sends
   rocks tumbling. Wild lilies break loose, travel.

There is too much everywhere
   not to observe.
Far into morning, sheep
   on every finger--Dorsetts
   and Corriedales--my hand
   is a meadow.

*     *     *     *     *

Nance Van Winckel has published five books of poetry, including After a Spell (1998), which received the Washington State Governor's Award for Poetry, and her most recent work, No Starling (2007). She has also published three short story collections.

Van Winckel has received two National Endowments for the Arts Poetry Fellowships, a Pushcart Prize and The Midland Authors Award. She has served as the Poet in Residence at the University of Montana and the University of North DAkota. She currently teaches in the MFA in writing programs at Eastern Washington University and Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Spokane, WA.

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