You were told it threw off threads
of flame—coronas—told it was
a roiling star, a ripe orange set to rise.
That its combustion, like your youth,
would never end.
You were shown how, at its heart,
a great store of fusion lay untouched,
the furnace of forever.
A summer’s worth of flies,
blackened swaths burning beside freeways.
Spikes of cadmium yellow,
and plates thrown to break
their china finish. Each new day
like the last, vain for an hour
beneath its fog and frost.
Place of ghosts, of the stick-hands
witches wear when they pinch
to punish children.
Small pane of glassed-in combustibles,
tar-faced grid of fir behind fir behind fir.
Where were you asked to stand
in the picture of your life?
What pose had you to hold?
Who didn’t want to?
Which one had to press a button in order to shine?
Enchanté, you said, on meeting this star
and the sun worked harder
to make you pretty.
Until the earth grew old in its orbit,
years like shells imploding.
Artillery the dirge-song,
a cold-hardened ground
where the shy star stays close
to the horizon, well-behaved
as any mercenary.
About the Poet
Judith Skillman’s new book is House of Burnt Offerings from Pleasure Boat Studio. The author of fifteen collections of poetry, her work has appeared in J Journal, Tampa Review, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Poetry, and other journals. Awards include grants from the Academy of American Poets and Washington State Arts Commission. Skillman taught in the field of humanities for twenty-five years, and has collaboratively translated poems from Italian, Portuguese, and French. Currently she works on manuscript review. Visitwww.judithskillman.com