The stench of septic rising over a camp. Two roses in a vase. The simple space between two houses, half-lit by a streetlamp and overwhelmed by an air of ivy and pine. And of course the coming rain, the heavy stain of it in the air, like mud, like wine. The memory of the field down past the septic: the itchgrass, onionweed, thistle, the witchweed. Arc of the roses against snow, the cryptic drunkenness of the snow behind the window —there is more than glass, something tenebrous in it. The houses sure, assured, like slow rivers inside the pines. The air unsure, unhinged. The memory, hinged. To be touched by it, as by nothing less or more than rain or grass brushing the knee, to sense the snow beyond the snow —and still not know it—is a perfect burden, a present tense.

NATHANIEL PERRY’s poems and translations have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, West Branch, Cincinnati Review, Salamander and elsewhere. The editor of lyric and The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, he is Assistant Professor of English at Hampden-Sydney College in rural southside Virginia.