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Jane Zwart: a poem

I drive to prison

where the tallest man in class speaks of children

who trip and stand up unhurt and do not cry

until they see broken skin, carnelian, a trickle

shaped like a run in a stocking. He says we are

like that still, that there is a sickness a man

can catch just catching his likeness in a glass.


Down my street lives a salesman whose wife died.

Once a week he putters past on his Vespa, a grandson

braced between his knees. For months the kid

would not loose the handlebars to wave.


Sometimes beauty lets you forget yourself. I drive

to prison early. At that hour, day can hardly see

over earth's shoulder. At that hour, vapour: stoneflies

airbrushing the river's patchy complexion, brown

shapes grazing. But I meant to tell you about a place

where the road curves, and I, following, steer

toward brilliance. I know the wish is foolish. I wish

I could drive my student to this bend in the route

I take east, to the spot where a rampart of forest

absorbs the sun's first blows, where the trees cannot

swallow the shining in time. He would stretch one

long arm out the window, I think. And, no longer shy

of the car's side mirrors, he would, no less than the oaks

conquered by light, forget himself and be anointed.

Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, One Hand Clapping, Threepenny Review, TriQuarterly, and Ploughshares, as well as other journals and magazines.

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