31 JANUARY 2012


All I Have to Do
The Sixty-third Hexagram

About Sarah J. Gardner




How we prevailed: salt cure, boot strap,
ash trees that raised thinning hosannas
skyward.             All winter

icicles grew like throats
more deeply runged from top to tip, the gutters
heavy with something to say—

a truth that grew downward until
what could not be voiced could be
crushed under foot.

Instead of a halt, another notch.
Instead of increase, a metronome.
All winter.

The place became a way of keeping
place.  It admitted
no one else.
All winter.  Like this.



All I Have Yet To Do

Summer as blue commotion: flags
trundle overhead, a tower trundles
higher.  The sun

peals its color across the sky
like a bell.

This minute lights into the next:

I see all I will ever do, all I have
not yet done,

A field, a fence,
an arsenal.

In the grass end of August,
stars we cannot see
that refuse
to stub out.




Birch turns, then maple: the neighborhood
raises its semaphores.
                        From inside the egg,                                   
thoughts of sap crackling in a forest fire
glanced by snow.  Winter revolving
on a pitched deck.
                                    Orion rolls by
with his dogs off the leash.  Then a
carpet van.  Then a cab.  With nothing

to pass from my hand to yours, I have
stood near this doorway too long.



Night Watch

Scent of black powder, the moon
between buildings, a round and unreadable

we believe, absolutely.  It gets repeated
so often.  Empty office floors
in the sling-linked night.

Taxi cabs, one after another. We replicate
ourselves in dream, a failure
of imagination

while lamps at the corners count down.
Pansies beneath them turned hard
as gravel, as colorless,
as sharp.



The Sixty-Third Hexagram

Next door, a piano. Dozing I have made all airplanes
one airplane, a drone that comes and goes, circling
out of view, unable to land.  The piano, though,

awakens me. Exactly where I left off.  From here
it is half a day to the mountains, the other half
for falling back. Each peak seeks sea level,

drops itself grain by grain into the valley.
A storm saunters in.  The change in pressure rattles
my door and I think this door wants me out.

Not my neighbor.  Mahler over and over again,
then just over. Midphrase. The last chord cutting
a swath in the mind in search of the others.

You might say the snake rehearses death
one skin at a time, until she arrives
at the central idea.  The sixty-third hexagram

of the I Ching: trying to complete things
creates disorder. In the foothills, grass slithers
skyward, but so few of us go there anymore.




is a poet whose work has appeared in such journals as Runes, Borderlands, and The North American Review and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Ping Pong. Her collections of poems include two chapbooks, How to Study Birds and The Calculus of Owls. She lives in Iowa where she works as editor of Radish magazine.