To the Sheltering Island

At the  time  there was a ferry to the island. We walked the
shore waiting to board. Even then my body was brewing a
pestilence I ignored until I couldn’t. When you say, almost
matter-of-factly,  Our  country’s  sick, and  the world-spirit’s
, I remember in my  bones the early  years I ailed. Now
Covid  scrapes   off  the  layers  that  buffer   us  from  fear.
Because today the sun hovers—a rare orangey-pink sphere
in a sky-blue wall  like a porthole—I think of the Gulf that
day,  how  the  water shone,  a blue-glass vase with its rose
of sun.  How  a  memory  of  beauty  is  its semblance,  not
counterfeit,  a  trace  of  the  heal-all  that’s  prayer’s  hinge,
wrought  as the  conductor conveys—from  one to another
nerve by  meticulous touch—a positive charge.  I  gazed at
the lucent waves,  felt a well-being I’d  deem over the years
by losing.

Cynthia Hogue’s tenth poetry collection is instead, it is dark (Red Hen Press, 2023). Her ekphrastic Covid chapbook is entitled Contain (Tram Editions, 2022), and her new collaborative translation from the French of Nicole Brossard is Distantly (Omnidawn, 2022). Among her honors are a Fulbright Fellowship to Iceland, two NEA Fellowships, and the Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets. She served as Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day for September (2022), sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Hogue was the inaugural Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She lives in Tucson.