Not This


The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun
W. H. Auden, Funeral Blues

Not this body-curve of dunes
this wind in the grasses
this prayer of bluff and stone
not the tired limbs of waves
or the sea like a big shaggy dog
rolling back its ears

Not this light on the water
falling through clouds
like the tumblings of small children
not the inky sketches of gulls’ wings
or their hieroglyphs in the sand
not the white isosceles
the meringue-capped geometries
of toy boats in the distance

Not this gathering of stars and shells
or cosmologies of water snails
not the heaped pillows of air
all the gentle hands
the deep persuasions of tides
not this sorrow this absence of footfalls
these undistracted waves
or unbreakable music
this truth this beauty
not this

Alexis Lathem

Alexis Lathem is an environmental journalist, editor, and writing instructor. She is the recipient of the Chelsea Award for Poetry, a Vermont Arts Council Grant, and a Bread Loaf scholarship. Her poems and essays have appeared in the AWP Writer's Chronicle, Gettysburg Review, Hunger Mountain, Chelsea, Spoon River, Saranac Review, Beloit, and other journals. She lives on a small farm in Vermont.