Ann Agnes Colwell


Wild things trust
not to trust.
So you crinkle the wrapper
and she sharpens her ears,
tenses hope down
against fear,
forces herself still.

In the pointed puzzle
of her face,
she empties gold eyes
of all but

What you drop
is sustenance
on a cold morning
and it falls
into the clearing
of dune grass.

To get it she must walk
away from the pines:
her hesitation
a nod
to pretend choice.

You both know
the bargain
and the cost,
and coaxing,
and what protection
is lost
in each step.


There is an owl in the hickory.
It is not my heart, anyone's heart.
It blends into shivering dead leaves,
hummocks of dry grass, patches
of old snow. The wind that talks
incessantly of loss can't make this
any less real for all it knows
or doesn't know.

At night round eyes
scour empty fields.
Black talons
grip some small life -
not a memory, no - something
with blood, a rabbit
or mole. Talons tear.
Before the wind can turn
the night to words, the owl
feeds, now, before
sound dies away.



I would pass this morning
from my mouth to yours,
feel your tongue
take words and know
the image will root
in your cells,
grow into you.

Under your ribs
the first touch of light
like a carpenter's line
drawn between ocean
and sky, the meteor shower
streaking through Cassiopeia
just before sunrise.

This is my gift
for love's end
for the days we
won't spend
learning each other
by heart.

To the west, the waning moon
settles in your left wrist.
In your dreams,
two great horned owls
sound the greying dunes,
navigate the vanishing night
in each other's cries.


In a field of static silence
you say "snow geese."

White wings black-
tipped, like they were

dipped in ink,
flash radiance

from here to the dark
horizon of your absence.

I want a charm to bring
you back, to fill

the gone field of stubble
with their shining.

I want their long mating
and raucous cries.

I want your voice white-winged
tipped with dark delight

crying "Snow geese!"
to the child beside you

who turns to see, just in time,
the ordinary mystery of flight.

Anne Agnes Colwell is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Delaware. Her book, Inscrutable Houses: Metaphors of the Body in the Poems of Elizabeth Bishop, was published by the University of Alabama Press in 1997. Her first book of poems, Believing Their Shadows, has been a finalist for the University of Wisconsin's Brittingham Prize, the Anhinga Prize, New Issues Poetry Prize and the Quarterly Review of Literature. Her poems have appeared in several journals, including, most recently, California Quarterly, Evansville Review, Phoebe, Eclectic Literary Forum, Southern Poetry Review, and Writer's Voice. Poetry is also at the heart of her research interests and she has published several essays concerning American poets, including an article in Connecticut Review on Anne Bradstreet and Affliction/Conversion Narrative and an article in Journal X about Elizabeth Bishop's poem "The Fish."



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