Two Poems by Rachel Dilworth
The tail is abruptly white. Not like dogwood, like sugar
when sugar is white; the rest of the fur, when sugar is brown.
And there is red. Flung. Dry now. My breath is gone.
The tail is round and light, as my brothers’ wiffleball
the summers we four still horsed in the sun and flew full throttle
through each day’s kingdom. The eye and lucky feet that could launch
the brief body, like praise, weigh still and strangely now.
Someone, someone. At the little cataclysm, kept on. Shook her
head in the rearview, but just kept going. You must be moved
from here. Someone. Must, one hand scooping the curve
of haunch, one a hebe-leaved ear, heft the bulk of this
small death. Carry you far, till the mind can yield sweet briar
and the pungent taste of crocus and slow moments to choose
to lay down in the long grass where life is not hit or miss.
Once, in the hot and bosky, recessed heart
of a Maui arboretum called the Garden of Eden,
she found an Icarus orchid thrown open to the sun—
every part far-flung and glistening, its pitch-
plum, mauve, and a shade she ached to taste
singed and blistered, hairs on end, as though
the whole thing was crying, I must always, always be flying.
And its photo now reminds her of something she wrote:
how for a time, she had waited on beauty to come
hunting, severe and irresistible, as though
it would catch her in its teeth and not let go.
Reminds her, too, what went untold: how that seize
writ large and its toothmarks on such breathlessness ajar—
so sure there must be more event than one
curve of light up a white crocus or spilled
through the underfeather of a sparrow—could become
the waiting itself, over years, and what might disappear.
The one by one untethering of lines
and the houses with their lights slipping upshore.
The muscle and press of wind barreling to
what? And then? Obscuring of words one wouldn’t forfeit:
path, gladdened, at home, right-as-rain.
That now, she wants beauty to come like the skirted cup
of the rhododendron breaks, rain-weighted,
to find its soft decay in the lawn, or
like rainwater gathers shallow on asphalt, a sudden
lake where a jay and a child’s toes will bathe,
or like the rabbit with eye all jitters stops
to bunch the crumples of his run-rough coat and feed
on alyssum as if it were droplets on the topsoil,
or like the friend who sits down without saying
a thing, his warm shoulder beside one
a page clean as air shifted by storm,
reading grounded, tendered, more than enough.
Rachel Dilworth’s first book, The Wild Rose Asylum: Poems of the Magdalen Laundries of Ireland (University of Akron Press), won the Akron Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the 2010 Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers. Her poems have appeared in TriQuarterly, AGNI Online, American Literary Review, Bay Nature, Chautauqua, Spoon River Poetry Review, on Seattle’s KUOW radio, and elsewhere. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Ireland for creative writing, Yale’s Clapp Fellowship for poetry, a Jack Straw Writers residency, two Dorothy Prizes, and other awards, Rachel lives and writes in western Washington.