Angela Ball

Class

Behind me, a chalk­board. Every now and then,
Tapping and scuff­ing, a fur­ry impa­tience
Blind to me. Pebbles roll down a scarp
Toward repose. Whiteness pre­sid­ing
Over lakes. Ice sawed into blocks
And har­vest­ed with giant tongs,
Hauled in a wag­on of saw­dust.
Drays pulling, hur­ry­ing uphill
To get it over with.

The clink of the har­ness, the creak of iron shoes
Through snow. The dri­ver removes a pipe
From his pock­et, strikes a match.
I present the sub­ject mat­ter
Though the stu­dents are already else­where
And the hors­es’ breath chills my neck.

 

Muddle

Bread wear­ing a shad­ow,
A yes­ter­day with loose gems.

Pins are avail­able, also clamps
For when dry­ing is required.

The por­ridge isn’t get­ting any younger.

A woman pre­tends to take pic­tures.
No film, no arma­ture. Only mem­o­ry
Performing tricks.

A mood breaks into a locked car.
An alarm sounds, an unbear­able headache.
We arrive, trailed by offi­cials,

Pose among trees of record
Next to a shack with the ends of our lives
Inside, resist­ing arrest.

 

Where It Was

1 CITY

City on the plateau,
In the hands of the rainy sea­son.

Workers walked its sew­ers hold­ing light bulbs
Protected by cages. Loudness said,
“It is rain­ing.” Everything down there
Was hearsay.

2 RIVER

I left my house,
Looking toward a hid­den riv­er
In cahoots with empti­ness.

Sonsa” is the word in Spanish.
I heard it applied to me.

I vis­it­ed the seashore, a fort
Green at the edges. The sky unmarked,
Thinking itself dis­tant. “Nothing is straight
In the sea,” it said.

I vis­it­ed a cave which once was a Consumption
Hospital, its tomb­stones, let­ters
Waiting to be fold­ed. One of them says,
“We are arrived at Mammoth. The doc­tor
Has a house in the town but vis­its each day
And lis­tens to our coughs.”

 

What Happens to Women

Hours of women
Tie up herds of tamales and pol­ish
The sky­scrap­ers of the potent.

The radi­ant force­ful bod­ies of women
Float beat­if­i­cal­ly through the poet­ry
Of Kahlil Gibran,

Wander half-crazed moun­tains,
Find flow­ers hid­ing oth­er flow­ers,
Bears stuck to each oth­er with sleep.

At six p.m., an indi­go of women
Flow south across London Bridge.
Cufflinks sweep past
In knowl­edge­able black cabs.

Orpheus’s lyre, pluck­ing by itself,
Plays across seas, destroy­ers fol­low­ing it,
Fish fol­low­ing it, a sna­fu of tor­na­dos,
Hailstorms, north­ern lights.
Euridice lis­tens, lis­tens not.

~

Angela Ball is pro­fes­sor of English in the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi and poet­ry edi­tor for Mississippi Review. She is the author of five poet­ry col­lec­tions, includ­ing The Museum of the Revolution: 58 Exhibits, Possession, Quartet and Night Clerk at the Hotel of Both Worlds, as well as two chap­books. She is the recip­i­ent of grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the NEA, and is a for­mer poet-in-res­i­dence at the University of Richmond. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, the New Republic, Poetry, and Best American Poetry, among oth­er pub­li­ca­tions.