Jennifer Atkinson

READING NAUTICAL MAPS

                                                                  after “Dream Walk” Helen Frankenthaler


As you trace a finger
From their inland greens and parchment-colored shores 

Into the barely tinted shallows   
Where you imagine the great gray heron wades 

Crest up on its spindly legs, and on out
Beyond the farthest low-tide bars inscribed with single-digit 

Italic depths, you feel the water chill and pressure
Grow, across the keyed gradations of deep 

And deeper blue. The inky depths
Surround you. Motionless fish hang like shards

Of mirror in the dark, an indigo by now
Nearly black. Come to rest 

On the ocean bottom, you look up
Through the viscous, life-moted atmosphere, 

Like a cat in a weighted sack, loosely tied.

 

 


JENNIFER ATKINSON is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Thinking Eye, (Parlor Press/Free Verse Editions). Individual poems have appeared in Cincinnati Review, Field, Image, and The Missouri Review. She teaches in the BFA and MFA programs at George Mason University in Virginia.


Issue Five
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