T.A. Noonan




10: Tannins

       Do not obstruct the course of the river.
       Let dreams of water determine it.
                 —Edmond Jabès (tr. Rosmarie Waldrop)

( Sarah, )                                                       Sarah,
( Water is what it is not: )                              Long wait,
( fire, )                                                           bite at the tongue’s side,

      ( a grove of titles——lady priestess dame witchqueen—— )

( You said I was your greatest
disappointment.Why appoint me,
give the dignity of your name? )                    Was it a whim, like a handgun
                                                                     flash or teacup foot?
( Imagine throwing it. )                                  Not like that——with a finger.
                                                                     Porcelain nail. Flare out. Work soft.
( Circles,
this distance cut by tea,
leaves curling. )                                             But I’ve still got fists & prayer.
                                                                     Your favorite.
( Lady A_____ offers thirty-three thousand
to give up my name, your dignity. I could
pay my loans, start again. )                           Water is what it must be.

       ( How long before I can take breakfast in the kitchen alone? )



11: Black

Correspondence :                                             



I scribe
in the book I’ve built. Shape
letters to press——
letter-press. Heat makes a
finger crook. ( Steal away. ) What
breathes exists. Lines,
like bacteria, multiply. Maybe Japanese snow
blinds me——language & names strange as mad
winters. It’s black in this cupped room. Color
same as the rest——inside
edges. ( Sarah, you’ve made this act of writing
grace——true as a portent, true as steel. )




12: Green

You couldn’t tell blacks from greens,
violets, blues. I chose
your socks, arranged gardens,

joked when binding cords
clashed with your robes. That
was the easy part——my job.

But when the power went out
before Yule, you sent
me to chalk sigils in the shed.

“Make them bright enough
for Dee’s angels to see
what they must do, & obey.”

Thick lines. ( Same
as the rest of us, I guess. )
You knew to press your black

teas for storage & trade.
That green lost its flavor
in a year. How could I

share your tongue, your tastes?
I knew English, not
Enochian. As green as I was

——with you, your ceremony——
you left me to the open air.
The air in me. These rules,

wax cooling. ( Light
candles. ) For our work, black’s
the same as the rest. Copy.




13: White


“In our coven black is the blessing color; white is for cursing. Black includes all colors. White is
absence. That is the truest curse.” Yet the rare white tea you kept in a jar rested in monochrome
behind creoline & whiskey. Hands that picked those downy leaves, laid the fluff of shoots & buds to
dry in the sun——their brown palms shined chartreuse-silver for all you knew. You brewed it before
every ritual, raised white steam like invocation. One Beltane I ate powdered doughnuts from the
offering plate, wiped my mouth with a sleeve’s frill. You saw the pale difference between panel &
cuff, held out your cup. “Wash that off. Let white pass my mouth to gold.”




Feverroot & Candle


Sometimes we request
what can’t be collected: pillbug down,
red crows, virgins, rain, lettuce, last call, cherry swizzle-sticks.
When that happens, go next door. We’re not uncommon in woodlands
& other shady situations. Remember: stem’s quick pierce
gaps just enough——leaves room to gather,
sweeten, overspecialize.





T.A. Noonan is the author of two chapbooks—Balm (Flaming Giblet Press) and Darjeeling (Ahadada Books). Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in the Outside Voices 2008 Anthology of Younger Poets, Phoebe, Harpur Palate, 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry, and many others. She currently lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she is a Ph.D. candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at The University of Southern Mississippi.


Back to Issue           LRLhome