Issue Sixteen - April 2010

Rock Paper Scissors

A poem for Pliny, on the occasion of our thirteenth wedding anniversary

By Renae Keep

This round, the scissors you could crush
lie elsewhere. The sky flexes, blue.
We’re face to face, palms extended. A hush
descends: paper covers rock. True

not much changes, at first. Your fist,
fort of sinew, does not soften or blur,
yet your eyes, with mine, descend to this
ground near the garden’s verge,

the dirt roughed up by our soles,
bits of leaf like flakes off a fresco,
rusty pine needles, a cricket’s slow
groping back beneath the loam.

This is where we live, at the surface
which is also our depth, defining time:
sedimentary accretion, sifted lace
cast by waters swift or still, old slime.

Last year, the ermine moth Yponomeutidae
spun its larval tent upon this leaf; 
now feathery veins only remain,
crumpled in our daughter’s grip. Grief
has spared us, this round. She, too,
is a rock. I cover you both, a hand to each,
in a kind of obverse prayer—
moving, oddly, in its absence of belief.

Copyright Renae Keep 2010