Three Poems by Anne Britting Oleson

Cassandra

Pale sand. Retreating shadow
in the far distance.
Raised hand: benediction?
Warning? Perhaps,
mere hallucination
in January mist.

Look around:
deserted winter beach.
Tightness in the chest.
A silent wave–even
footprints, gone now.

At first, no one
to tell.
And then: no one
believes.

Voice

To speak, my love,
is to betray love.
Words themselves break down
walls–
stones torn from battlements,
hurled into still waters,
scars rippling outwards.
To speak truth is impossibility
when words, airy, lie.
Do you understand?
They are all lies.
Even these.
If you speak those
single syllables–
he is dead–
you murder me.
If you remain silent,
I am forgotten
(erased like footprints
before the tide)–
and you murder me.

Fog and Mist

In the morning which did not come
the dragons lay curled on the beach.
She passed among them gingerly,
and though they coiled, uncoiled, recoiled,
writhing about her body, devouring her footprints,
none met her eye: she might have tamed them.
They did not roar, though she heard
the steady thrum of heartbeat and breath.
Their scales lay cool upon her skin.
She bowed to them, kept her unfaltering pace,
a recognition of equals between them.
When at last she broke through
to the end of the endless shingle,
at the far side where the forest loomed,
she thanked them with another bow.
Their coils furled, their throats swallowed the path.
You have come, the voice said from the trees.
I have come, she said, and passed into the wood.

Anne Britting Oleson lives and writes in the mountains of central Maine. She has published two poetry chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (Moon Pie Press, 2007) and The Beauty of It (Sheltering Pines Press, 2010), as well as a novel, the Book of the Mandolin Player (B Ink Publishing, 2016). A second novel, Dovecote, is due out in September 2017.

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