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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 13, 2017
About this Poem 
“I grew up walking the headlands in my hometown of Mendocino, California, so the precipice is a place I know well. Then there’s my tendency toward worry, which I inherited from my mother and her mother, and so on. When I find myself in love, I inevitably end up crossing through this childish phase, when I worry my beloved will not return to me for any number of terrible reasons, chief among them that I am not lovable. And as a person who has lost friends and lovers over the years, I know that love reaches beyond the physical and is, in fact, endless. I guess I wanted to acknowledge that truth through this poem.”
—Amber Flora Thomas
 

Headwind

Weak motion of grasses and tern before the sea.
Worry’s school cresting here and everywhere
as failings.
 
I pace the cliff path, my hands cupped above my eyes.
The glare steals your progress, a kayak needling
the wide open.
 
Love means you answer, this the child’s rebuke.
A pattern crosses the point, hemming
the horizon: steamship.
 
I didn’t know you were the green pitch
unable to beat the storm to shore.
You didn’t know I was the lookout.
 
Get accustomed to the sad girl picking you
out of the sea, the knot caught in her throat,
and the unraveling of her speech: an endless rope
thrown out of me.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Amber Flora Thomas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 13, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Amber Flora Thomas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 13, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Amber Flora Thomas

Amber Flora Thomas

Amber Flora Thomas is the author of The Rabbits Could Sing: Poems (University of Alaska Press, 2012) and Eye of Water: Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), winner of the 2004 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, chosen by Harryette Mullen. Her poetry collection, Red Channel in the Rupture, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2018. She lives in Washington, North Carolina.

by this poet

poem

I’ve memorized its heart pounding into my thumb.
Breath buoys out. My fingers know how to kill,
closing on the bird’s slippery head.

I don’t remember. Was it that beak bit my chin?
Was it a claw cut my wrist? I blow feathers
away from its chest, smelling pennies and rain.

Skin like

poem

You get into puddles with the sky
and when this fails
pit your girl against an ocean.

Choices blur and make off with rooms
in the whiteness. Winged enough to manage
your red kimono’s 37 cranes in various
trajectories while you make the coffee.

You as God with rattlesnakes

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