Sleetmagazine.com

Volume 14 • Number 1 • Spring-Summer 2022

E.J. Evans

The War

Remembering when I stayed among mountains--
days spent watching the movements of the sky,
and seeing them finally as
a long struggle for supremacy between sun and cloud,
the endless fraught churning of light and shade,
advancing and retreating, without beginning or end,
and extending all the way down
through miles of wild air, into me.

The Ship

The small gestures are over. Some turn in time and
the blind machinery of happenstance
has taken me unexpectedly far. Much farther than I wanted.
As if blown on a sudden wind.
One thing I learned is that no matter how far the ship takes me
I'm still living on the edge of an empty space.
The edge moves with me. Is in me. If I go ashore
I'm still carrying an unknown momentum.
Something that leaves no trace. That wants nothing.
When we arrive at a city, long walks take me
crisscrossing the streets and the parks.
In every city the people are mostly poor
and look worn down by long labors and the grinding of time.
I look into their faces as they are sweeping or unloading trucks
or setting up tables in a cafe. I don't know what I am looking for.
All these cities appear in my mind
as separate worlds emerging from an expanse of
bright sky and dark sea and time. How far do I extend in this?
Is my life drawn on the surface of the water?

Christmas

There are five people in the house,
in the large white room,
with a fireplace, dark and never used.
a silvery artificial tree, laced with bright objects
and surrounded by boxes wrapped in different colors--
those small enigmas
each like a tiny offering to a different possible future
and the implicit promise that these people
were on a verge, that something
more complete was coming.
I see them as if held in stillness in a crystal,
unaware of their own perfection, the whole room, with them,
hanging suspended in a vast space.

E. J. Evans lives in Cazenovia, New York, and is the author of Ghost Houses (Clare Songbirds), Conversations With the Horizon (Box Turtle Press), and the chapbook First Snow Coming (Kattywompus Press).