Nebraska Center for Writers


anywhere. Someone more
beautiful follows with eyes
the color of caramel, the color
of denim, cornflower, topsoil,
overtone of carmine, new leaf,
hair the color of bittersweet,
patent leather. Over your shoulder
should you choose to look
she lolls on the grass
sunning, her tongue on loose,
her eyes closed, no wrinkles
shouting age age at the corners.
Bow to her. Whisper, "nice day"
whisper "milady brown tree'
say "love me love me"
and see how her shoulder dips
to you, all the sudden
hollows filling with silver
wide eye flicking open
then shutting askew
on one color, your color:
a sliver of bone
a sluice of water, running.

Reprinted with permission
from What is Good
Copyright © 1988
by Hilda Raz
Thorntree Press


"God is in the details,"
I tell the kids
in the public school
at Milligan, Nebraska.
They wonder what I mean.
I tell them to look
out the window
at the spring fields
the mud coming up
just to the knee
of the small pig
in the far pasture.
They tell me
it's not a knee
but a hock
and I hadn't ought
to say things I know
nothing about. I say
the light on the mud
is pure chalcedony.
They say the mud
killed two cows
over the weekend.
I tell them the pig
is alive and the spring
trees are standing in a green haze.
They tell me school is out
in a week and they have to plant.
The grain elevator at the end
of Main Street stretches out
her blue arms. The kids say chutes.

Reprinted with permission
from The Bone Dish
Copyright © 1989
by Hilda Raz
State Street Press


I have had this lesson,
not to care for the bones.
The cat in my lap dies,
he is replaced, the man who
casts me out is cast out,
the love that leaves returns
as "a wall of water," she kept
saying, as if the words
were the flood and all she could see
she would repeat: "A wall of water."

Wipe me out. I have been replaced,
supplanted, ignored, cast out,
ground down, spat upon, rejected,
refused, neglected, soiled,
reviled, dismembered.
I have lost husband and children,
beasts and possessions, I am ashes,
an orphan; my dearest self took a gun
into himself and died in the fields.

My breasts are empty pockets.
Pain visits my body; tears
my eyes, my mouth is filled
with wind, I speak nonsense
incessantly, silence is fled
from me, wisdom hides her head.
A feverish energy holds, then drops me down.
My children flee from me. A succession
of bruises bloom on the long bones of my body.

Oh God of the waters, God of the fragile body,
imperfect and weak,
watch over me, care for me,
raise me up out of the plumes of the dust,
the rusty canyons.
Rinse and nourish me. In return I have
nothing but my great and perfect

Reprinted with permission
from What Is Good
Copyright © 1988
by Hilda Raz
Thorntree Press

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The Rock

Nebraska Center for Writers