The nibs and cold blue fountains
of the pen. And no obvious way
through the mountains. A rain east.
A sleet west. Sixty-pound sack
of moans, spells, minds hollowed
to hysteria and silk ribbons.
The recipient not remembering exactly
the someone’s lips but pressing
a slow kiss to the stamp. Two cents
for it, and three for the scrivener.
Hard black X’s were all she could sign
where instructed at the bottom, love.
The railroad not yet caught up with the one
whose skis exit into horizon enter
towns still asleep… unpunctured paragraphs.
Wildflowers out late. How not to
but don’t read the letters however sweet
the folds the slanted hand pressing on.
Packets: unconsecrated hosts. Across Luther Pass
wolves winds fifty-foot drifts.
The he and she busy bearing in new lives
whisking out old ones. The closed eye.
News of it. Never open. Never read.
How still the towns asleep.
Nance Van Winckel’s fourth collection of poetry is Beside Ourselves (Miami University Press, 2003). A new collection of poems is forthcoming from University of Washington Press. She has received two NEA Fellowships and has recent poems in APR, Ploughshares, New Letters, and The Massachusetts Review. She has also published three books of short fiction, most recently Curtain Creek Farm (Persea Books, 2000), and is the recipient of a 2005 Christopher Isherwood Fiction Fellowship and the Patterson Fiction Award. New short stories appear in The Georgia Review and Agni. She teaches in the MFA programs at Eastern Washington University and Vermont College.