Liz Ahl



The crescent moon’s bright claw,
sharpened by cold, floats tonight

between belligerent Mars and fat, lusty Venus,
themselves shined up too,

by winter’s arid atmosphere, a windshield
freshly wiped clean of temperate haze.

Last night, the moon honed in on Venus;
tomorrow, it will pass Mars, leave it behind.

When, in their slow choreography, heavenly bodies
draw such a rare line between themselves,

we think that line must point somewhere,
must conjure magic, or birth limited opportunities.

But lines such as these are merely glimpses
of vast circles and ellipses,

some still so big, their curves so long in the arc,
we haven’t even seen them come full around

for the first time.





     I learned not to fear infinity,
    The far field, the windy cliffs of forever,
The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow . . .
….—Theodore Roethke, “The Far Field”


The yellowjackets drowse at their dinner,
not their usual dart and parry, but a sluggish
autumnal crawl across chunks of windfall apples.
At a picnic table beneath the tree that drops those
tart flesh bombs, I wait for my farm-fresh
food truck dinner, appreciating in the nearby grass
a brown pile, seedy, loose apple-scat, left here
by a bear sometime between midnight and dawn.

I too have gorged myself by moonlight, bracing
for a lean season I felt leaning towards me.
I’ve been inebriated by sweetness so enormous
I could crawl around on it like it was a boulder.

In the far field past the empty hothouses, someone
cuts flowers, gathers the last blooms of rust and ochre.
On the edge of first frost, I too have held in my arms
yet barely comprehended the last of what I know never lasts,
and loved it, or tried to, in spite of this, and because of this.





spill a sunset on it

stitch some islands on it

scatter some boulders in it
that aspire to be islands
just below the surface

leave a clandestine piss in it

glide a kayak or canoe across it

put summer on it, in it, dry it out
put rain on it, fill it up

put a name on it,
laid over another name and another,
all the way back to nameless
and past it

land a seaplane on it

anchor a swim float in it

put a zoning law on it

pull that secret from your pocket
skip the worn stone of it
across the face of the water

lose lead tackle like poisonous teeth in it

float a lead-poisoned loon on it

put it to work as metaphor,
tourism center, sanctuary
for whatever creature’s deemed
protection-worthy these days

put your body in it, but beware duck itch

in February, cut from it a hundred
cakes of ice; pull from it in June
a single, bedazzled fish.




Liz Ahl is the author of A Case for Solace (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2022) and Beating the Bounds (Hobblebush Books, 2017). She is also the author of several chapbooks, including A Thirst That’s Partly Mine, winner of the 2007 Slapering Hol Press chapbook contest. She lives in New Hampshire.