Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio banner


Your gift: a map of my state,
yellow-banded highlands to the west,
thrust of ancient turbulence
and green triangle of sedimentary calm,
southeast bottomland slumbering,
head barely lifted above the sea.

And as I trace with my finger
across this glossy laminate
mosaic of colored space
the folded ridges of topography,
I am thinking of the conversation
where we spoke of the hills
behind your childhood home.
No climbers, we, but in that moment,
it was as if we were roped
high on the face of that chalky escarpment
above the out-of-season orchard—
crabbed naked branches
spreading as a net below—
distance a knot in the sinews of my gut.

And when I set the phone back into its cradle,
I was not sure what had happened, or not,
but felt my body rise to the tightening
of twin ropes pulled apart,
splayed, heart suspended
—five-pointed star—
against uplifted rock.

{"Knot" originally appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Vol. 11, #1, April 2005, and is included in the chapbook Falling Dreams, Finishing Line Press, 2006}