Love Poem with No Mountains in Sight

Closer, it is the birds that bind

the morning together—the birds

and the train’s vagrant whistle

summoning all distances

to itself. A dog barks from streets away

and my heart casts itself past

the tender border her calling makes. As we

are always casting ourselves across edges

and streets, as I once stepped from a curb just when

the icon of the walking figure on the sign began

to pulse, and realized in that second that

I loved you. A street may be named

for a mountain, even if no mountains exist

for miles, just as one tree may

stand in for a season, an entire

impossible summer of your hand

giving ballast to my hip each night in

whatever darkness the city can salvage. Here,

where I am far from you and it is still

day, the day is made of wind

and distant cars, and the way each

of their singings can be mistaken

for the other’s. What wind does:

shakes the remnants of yesterday’s rain

down from the catalpa. Discovers

the spaces between blades of grass, between

a cuff and the wrist it harbors, final place

on the body where skin still equals silk. What

skin does: shivers, when wind

discovers it, or fingers do. Knits over

the harmed place, builds a scar. What

happened here? you asked, first

time, fingering the ragged one stamped

on my calf. What you do: remind me,

cities away, to bring my face close

to a white-flowering tree. To walk

beneath that tree again, at dusk, and see

how it becomes the opposite

of lantern. To pass a yellow-lamped

window and glance inside, at books

lined like supplicants on their shelves.


Kasey Jueds is the author of two collections of poetry, both from the University of Pittsburgh Press: Keeper, which won the 2012 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and The Thicket, forthcoming in fall 2021. Her work can be found in journals including American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, Narrative, Beloit Poetry Journal, Ninth Letter, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, and Pleiades. She lives in the mountains of New York State with one human, a spotted dog, and many houseplants.