CAROL VANDERVEER HAMILTON
Vanderveer Hamilton has a Ph.D. in English from Berkeley, an M.F.A. from Vermont
College, and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. She has published a wide range of writing, including
scholarly articles in academic journals, reviews in alternative papers, op-ed
pieces, two chapbooks of poetry, and poems in many literary journals, including The
Paris Review, The North American Review, Poetry Miscellany, Salmagundi, and Frank
(in Paris). A longtime citizen of Berkeley, California, she now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her new collection of poems is entitled
Blindsight (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2005).
Blinded by eyes that remember us
blank and unreadable,
a torso twisted in tension,
someone's reticent hand
found, like a vase on a table,
in a world unperturbed and inviolate
its edges distinct as petals,
they persist in their movements,
like well-rehearsed dancers
with no lines to speak, only
gestures of resignation.
He is winsome, like a dimple.
She is wholesome, like a hunk of bread.
They move through space without knowing it.
Time laps at their feet, topside
where, among submarines, they dream
of exploding Polynesian atolls and
echoes of a soliloquy that, dying,
Hamlet choked back.
April was colder than it used to be. Ice
under fingernails, snowflakes
embedded in skin. Nobody
had an explanation, just sounds
that melt on the lips,
drip on the linoleum. By July
the sky advertised rain.
Ragged men crouched in doorways
held out their tweed caps.
Shopkeepers slept until noon.
The brain merely flickered in the attic.
Thought itself seemed physical,
an injury, an artificial limb. Now
it's the end of December. Death
has a peculiar luster,
the polished lid of a coffin. Sleep
like a mime's impersonation
goes on sleeping,
the mourners lining the roadside,
their faces inscrutable.
An implicit rapture where the dunes
broke into lineaments: the evening rippled
past ice cream stands and breakwaters.
Everyone knew a hurricane was coming.
Fleeing their grey clapboard houses,
the whole sum of sleep, they caught
a long ride on the rip tide into paradise
where plates of salmon and new potatoes
awaited them. Meanwhile
we were snapped off, floating in the ocean
as waves trembled over smashed perspectives.
What did they think of us then?
We who memorized how the rain fell on everyone,
determined what they would be
when they didn't grow up.