by Karen Carissimo

Published in Issue No. 149 ~ October, 2009

Bodega Head

A calm wind lilting silver lupine and dill weed

through fields of dune grass, cloud light veiling

a copse of firs in the distance, green brine a dense

tea in the sea below. Thin snakes crossed open

paths into thickets of thorn and shade. Silence

settled into trees. The hawk rose from the shore’s edge,

rode the heated current breezing beside the cliff wall.

In tiered shade of drying bracken fern the rabbit’s

slitted eye in near-sleep shone wet with fear.

Gripped in the hawk’s sight, still, as if stillness

were invisibility, the rabbit waited for its master,

the hawk tunneling down, scudding at drop’s end.

Its red blade of beak sank into soft neck, the bird’s

ancient shape stark against sky, wings cloaked

around its capture. Three, four wingbeats, air quaking,

the hawk flew to a clearing, the sack of a small body dangling

from its claws. Blood blackened the rabbit’s fur,

ran in strands through gold poppies and granite stones.

Head raised, the beak peeled flesh from bone, throat

pulsing around each swallow. Fog smoked from the sea, coiling

over the promontory, rushed a cold cover over the remains,

the hawk springing to flight, vanishing into a white sun.

A Conservatory in Winter

Golden Gate Park

A storm hatches over domed glass,

a sun refracted by water’s movement

over a tangled mass of forest cloud.

Gradations of green woven in branch,

vine, shadow, replicate palm fronds

knit a canopy around an old liana

reaching its aerial roots to the ceiling,

stumped in knuckled bark cracked

with mold. Must fumes from a dense

air of containment; gnats hover a rotted

log with miniature caves where tiny blooms

sprout from moss beds. Ferns sprawl

wormy soil, interlace tendrils cleaving

to trees with bulging fruit misted from above

with a slow descent of warm spray.

Whitewashed panes blot away the terminal

light, the striking rain muted by a waterfall

pooling into tubs of floating lotus, taro

stained with violet. Pockets of heat open

around each tropical overflow, preening

orchids and pitcher plants winding down

iron shelves. A pacific breeze fans an aroma

of narcissus and lily, a scent of perpetual spring

spreading through damp rooms, floors scented

by a century left to its own growth

untouched by a world outside

that long ago lost its capacity to harm.

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Karen Carissimo's poems are forthcoming in Notre Dame Review and The American Poetry Journal. Her work has appeared in Western Humanities Review, Crab Orchard Review, North American Review, Valparaiso Review, and elsewhere.