Peter Gurnis

from Light’s Glare

The woman who works at the Post Office told me that spring is almost here.
I told her, I hadn’t noticed. I’ve looked at the lilac buds, the twig-buds.
I said to the woman at the Post Office. I pay attention to lilacs, and such-like native fruit.
I pay attention to the birds. I keep count of the days by marking them off with a pencil.
And yet, nothing has changed. And then she said that the ice is almost gone.
She said the winter is about to vanish. It’s about to vanish out of sight.
You ought to pay attention, she said. You ought to pay attention to the signs.
But where are the geese? Where are the noisy geese?
He walked out to the woods. Then she locked the kitchen door.
He shut the gate as if to keep the others out, and never said a thing. In the first place,
she left the door ajar. In the first place, she could not sleep at night.
What if you could only think of the name for a river by going on a walk?
What if you could only think about a river by falling into sleep?
Say what you will about last Thursday’s freakish blizzard.
We found old names in a catalog of apples
(dried leaves, bare trees).


The sentence ought to be hanging from a nail.
After pushing his wife out a window, opprobrious speech.
In theory: our domestic life, especially for those at sea.

The stuffing in my head, broken bones:
what kills rats and snakes.

Excellent for jaundice.
If eaten raw, it resists drunkenness.
Any gnawing of the belly, hiccoughs, urine, coughs.
I was half-thinking about bog iron, or the noise coming out of a pond,

for instance.

Henry wandered like a cloud (an oak tree, a pile of bricks).
For those who lost their ears in a blizzard, or by walking in extremis.
It says that our rivers shall be opened by April 20th for alewives and shad.
Look up into a chimney (and see stars),
perhaps that is the lost definition of refuge: to seek shelter in a chimney,
to hide inside. And thus, escape the ambuscade.


Increase Mather said to his wife.
To every seed its own body (1 Corinthians 15.38).
Being so curiously wrought that He twists into shape a firmament:
an Exhortation / out of a Crumbling book: loose at the hinges.
Whosoever designedly and by any pretense,
privy or false token.
Nota Bene: because I had built a house on a cake of ice.
Before I knew any of the facts. Kisses are exceedingly sweet amongst friends.
Or else, to fly away (with a bounce or Crack).
And thus, running westerly into the swamp at the end of Little Flag meadow,
or else by going toward the east, where you will find a pile of stones at the top of Bare Hill,
on the other side of Andover. Yesterday, or the day after that, a constable came to the door
with a summons issued by the Court of Oyer and Terminer:
Its vertue doth lye in the heart, communicated by the heart, to the Pith of a tree,
and thru the [pith] to the stone inside of an open fruit,
namely in its juicy heart.


The child hath grievous fits.
And at Stonington an Indian came to the door. With a Book of ecclesiastical rags.
Those who are Righteous ought not to be frightened by the discourse of a coiled rope.
What kind of evidence is a handful of feathers coming out of a loving mouth?
After I locked the door to the house and climbed into bed.
After she said what she said to the others. About the time
I found Bridget in the orchard with a brindled cow. The child coughed up a handful of soot.
Indeed, I saw her crawl out of a hole. After I had locked the door to the orchard.
And Deliverance Hobbs reached out of the dark. The thing spoke plainly.
About how to insure against the loss of any fragrant vine. For example:
once he found a vacancy in the distance, which is incontrovertible proof.
Upon hearing the news, they cried, dreadful, dreadful.
At which our ears doth tingle. So an apricock [stone] brings forth a plum,
yea the seeds of an apple bring forth a thousand trees.
And the Capitalist, like a cormorant, or an indefatigable lynx.
Invisible Furies.

This is but a speculation.
If you follow the old turnpike to Framingham
on the back of an ox, or decide to stay in bed on a sunny day.
Think of what needs to be done: pruning the apple tree, nailing down the roof.
He walked out of the house, thinking about a wooden boat (pink azaleas, days of dreary rain).
My wife says that I am querulous. She says, a brilliantly amorphous story!
And worries about the traffic inside of my head.
Yesterday, I felt like a wasp nest.
Yesterday, I sat in my chair and tried to
imagine what goes on inside of the hive. I said to my wife,
think of a swarming hive as a brain, hanging from an imaginary branch.
And today, I don’t know why: that blue teapot. For example, once
I saw a tanager being eaten by a hawk. And in the evening, he nailed on the wall:
a landscape of greenish yellow, dark blues and black.
While his wife watched from a chair.
And the cat slept.

Peter Gurnis lives in Tenants Harbor, Maine. In 1987, Burning Deck Press published The Body of Liberties. More recently, Antony Barnett printed “The Admiralty Prize” in his magazine Snow Lit Review (#5). 
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , by Posit Editor. Bookmark the permalink.

About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.