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About this poet

Cynthia Zarin is the author of Orbit, forthcoming from Knopf in 2017, and The Ada Poems (Knopf, 2010). She teaches at Yale University and lives in New York City.

Birch

Bone-spur, stirrup of veins—white colt
a tree, sapling bone again, worn to a splinter,
a steeple, the birch aground

in its ravine of leaves. Abide with me, arrive
at its skinned branches, its arms pulled
from the sapling, your wrist taut,

each ganglion a gash in the tree's rent
trunk, a child's hackwork, love plus love,
my palms in your fist, that

trio a trident splitting the birch, its bark
papyrus, its scars calligraphy,
a ghost story written on

winding sheets, the trunk bowing, dead is
my father, the birch reading the news
of the day aloud as if we hadn't

heard it, the root moss lit gas,
like the veins on your ink-stained hand—
the birch all elbows, taking us in.

Copyright © 2011 by Cynthia Zarin. Reprinted from The Ada Poems with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 by Cynthia Zarin. Reprinted from The Ada Poems with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Cynthia Zarin

Cynthia Zarin is the author of Orbit, forthcoming from Knopf in 2017, and The Ada Poems (Knopf, 2010). She teaches at Yale University and lives in New York City.

by this poet

poem

Because you like to sleep with curtains drawn,
        at dawn I rose and pulled the velvet tight.

You stirred, then set your hand back on my hip,
       the bed a ship in sleep’s doubled plunging 

wave on wave, until as though a lighthouse
      beam had crossed the room: the vase

2
poem

To Mary Jo Salter

Beyond the ice-bound stones and bucking trees, 
past bewildered Mary, the Meer in snow, 
two skating rinks and two black crooked paths

are a battered pair of reading glasses 
scratched by the skater's multiplying math. 
Beset, I play this game of tic-tac-toe.

Divide, subtract. Who can