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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 10: October 2021
Poem: 209 words
By Patricia Nelson

Cyclops

 
i. 
At dawn the lambs run, wailing, 
from the dark cave to the daylight. 
Creatures pale as grief. 

And I, the jailer with the hairless hide 
and single rolling eye, will count them, 
touching them with memory: 

Their crooked hair, their gentleness, 
the shift of eye and odor, 
phrases of sky that leak from their mouths. 

I know they see it, the sadness of dawn—
still hold it in their eyes, still call to it. 
A call that sounds like fear—but smaller. 

I will shear their purple dawn from them, 
their misery as soft as violets. 

ii.
The air of my cave has changed. 
It moves with the sound of cloth and sticks, 
the scent of creatures neither sad nor gentle. 

They watch me as their heat and slyness 
thuds. Their hate whispers in the dark 
like a small, blue flame. 

Each mind sighs “home” and “distance” 
like a small, gray, weeping gland 
or a slow wringing of hands. 

They think a journey home will free them. 
They widen in that wish like roses 
as if desire could make them beautiful. 

As if my hands were upward 
and they come down like rain or light. 

As if something is escaping, 
grazing on the steep and empty sky. 

Patricia Nelson
Issue 10, October 2021

is a retired attorney who worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets led by Lawrence Hart and John Hart in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is In the Language of Lost Light (Poetic Matrix Press).

 
 
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