Kathy Fagan


At this point in our lives we expected to be more
               satisfied with the lighting. For consolation we turn to
great music and the vast panorama,

which I can really only apprehend in bits:
               sand succulents smaller than baby toes, a ringlet of E-
string vibrating in the peg box.

On that night we were like children at a vigil,
               bearing the smeared tulips of our wineglasses in hand,
a still procession arcing round the trio until

the violin—not holding forth but surging
               through—stitched something open in us. And when we
were each left fingering our new buttonholes,

we felt the illusion of vista. Being me,
               I reached for the button—but, as I’ve said, the lighting
is bad, and by this time it was late

and we were all a little drunk. I took into
               my hand then the warm hand beside it. Perhaps you
kept yours folded over your chest

for a moment. While the sea, imperceptibly
               beyond, dropped ashore its briny scent of beach wrack—
like keys on the dresser of a dark room—where

the spindle-legged plovers forage in the morning.

Kathy Fagan’s fifth collection of poems, Sycamore, will be published by Milkweed in early 2017. Fagan teaches at Ohio State and serves as Series Editor of the OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Poetry Prize.