Canal du Midi


       for Pascale
In her last year
when the canal opened
and the ground gave up
its black swans,
she was the one calling them –
channeling their light through the soles
of her feet. Their hard red bills
made of clay – bugle cries
moving through her like a child
falling from a cliff. She saw faces
in the water (the tall plane trees asking
to be saved), all of them soft
at the mouth. Wild yellow irises
pushed up like confession.
They seem cudgeled
by the wind, or hypnotized
by their own reflections, bending
too close to the muckish
river. What did she write, then tuck
in the underwing? Sundown
was a hermit’s candle, a golden rope
around her waist. There’s something
she tried to say – the wheat of Mary’s hair,
her tongue pistilled with roots. What the soil
won’t tell, but knows like a bulb,
a soul awaiting another life. She ate
all the irises until her belly bulged
weighted down in her castle of water

Lois P. Jones is a recipient of the 2016 Bristol Poetry Prize, 2012 Tiferet Poetry Prize and the 2012 Liakoura Prize and was shortlisted for the 2016 Bridport Prize in poetry. Her poetry has been published in anthologies including The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear Publishing), Wide Awake: Poetry of Los Angeles and Beyond (The Pacific Coast Poetry Series), 30 Days (Tupelo Press) and Good-Bye Mexico (Texas Review Press). She has work published or forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Narrative, American Poetry Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, The Warwick Review, Cider Press Review and others. She is Poetry Editor of Kyoto Journal, host of KPFK’s Poets Café (Pacifica Radio) and co-hosts Moonday Poetry. Lois’s poems have won honors under judges Fiona Sampson, Kwame Dawes, Ruth Ellen Kocher and others.