Sabra Loomis

All afternoon long

I lay down by the river.

If I put my head against the side of the hill,

I can hear the lambs arguing

in Greek or in Arabic. The cattle

move in slow syllables downhill,

to lie in fields of mud and clover.

I will rest with you here,

slow riverbeds       cowbeds

Sitting, slowly rocking

the great cow-foreheads,

twitching grass and brandishing the grass,

eating tails and foreheads of the grass

you quiver and heave slightly,

switching at bothersome flies,

and turn away.

One by one,

getting up hindfirst,

the necks ungathering       hips       legs

emerging from underneath

You bellow, bring forth cries—

you bring forth gathered cries

of the watersheds       the forests

dusk of great mountains and valleys

and walks above the Minaun cliffs.

You bring       forequarters of grace

shoulderblades, foreheads that rise       you bring

the dense, wounded cries of the evening.

Sabra Loomis

Who are these—

rising, emanating

from grey cliffs?

They are nomads,

children of the Father.

Pilots, resters on the waves,

risers-up under riptides

who are like the grey dawn

Guides in every quick direction;

sleek hide and scholarly wingtip,

hidden in the hollow of the wave.

They are gnostics,

riding the great depths as dolphins,

they are like the grey dawn

Otter and seal and sea lion

hidden in secret burrows

who went into the brambles and in sunlight

washed, and hid themselves,

giving and receiving the cloak of the rain.

Sabra Loomis

The turtle’s neck and arms

were laced downward and around

with yellow markings.

As he climbed, the flowers and lamps

of the years were yellow-and-black.

He said YES—he gathered them like a flower

and turned them up inside; he was trimming

and carrying the lamps of all the years

for his children’s children. He was their Father!

He was working the ladder of hemp

he used to carry over treetops

to the kingdom of the lawn,

where he set it down, under the trees—

and it stayed motionless.

It anchored them through space

to the stone steps of the terrace,

the side of the house.

Now he was going to depart.

Now he was going to hide his head

in the evening light. He was going to bed.

Red ends of the daylight were the corners of his eyes.

He carried the lamps of getting up early,

and going to bed in summertime—

up, from the chambers of the ancient mud,

and in, from the silence of the river foam.

Sabra Loomis is the author of House Held Together by Winds, a new Harper Perennial Trade Paperback Original (August 2008), from which these three poems are taken. Winner of the 2007 National Poetry Series Open Competition as selected by James Tate who said of House Held Together by Winds, “This is a heady book, so full of surprises, realistic yet so full of the marvelous. In a quiet, controlled way, it keeps the reader completely unguarded.” Sabra Loomis is the author also of Rosetree and two chapbooks of poetry. She has received awards from the Massachusetts Artists’ Foundation, the Yeats Society, and The British Council, as well as fellowships form Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She teaches frequently at the William Joiner Center at the University of Massachusetts, and was on the faculty of the Poets’ House, Donegal, for many years. Sabra Loomis divides her time between New York City and Achill Island, Ireland.

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