Kate Northrop

Slant, and Far Across the Sea

Listen, everyone in a room
a division, a crack at a girl.
Just keep
one eye out;
don’t lean toward windows, don’t drink
greedily like that.
And when you pass through a room, smile
directly, at someone
even if
they seem to be engaged
in conversation–tell me, who’s
completely engaged?–
and the transaction
shall act as an anchor. Soon you will circle
through turn, through give me
your attention
; you will see each face
as something immaculate,
a study of weather
in the distance, a square of rain slanting down
to where it storms across the sea (though there
dark swells are, waves cracking open–). And if sometime
it surfaces, that particular
memory, the turn
down a gone hallway, or how you shamed yourself
once in somebody’s kitchen (–the sunlight
filtering in) let a secret steady your resolve. Maintain,
maintain. To appear
is to escape.

Kate Northrop
Slant, and Far Across the Sea first appeared in The American Poetry Review, Winter 2003.