Two Poems

by Julia Johnson

The Woman in the City

She waited, driftwood body stung by wasp,
her folded hand like a knife. She was irritable, too
lifeless to wait any longer. The radio rattled and she
remembered her stroke in the stream. She turned like a top,
in, and then once out, she was bright as golden hair. The
trees bristled in the open air. She looked back, the orange
of her dress like an unpredictable peach. Her thumbs held to
her shoulders; it was twelve o’clock. She worried about
something other than her hands. They had helped her,
she knew, in the brassiest and smallest way. The breeze died
down around her smooth head.

Motet: Five Voices

It’s not for you
to recognize as you wander up
the path, a fury of bees
making its way into your shirt collar.

If what you already know
is remembered, in an instant,
is fixed on the brain, then you will
take instructions: Play now the violin, wand on string.

Note how the counting of time
and the door of the hand give you reason
to keep going. How in the birth of these
voices the slow breath keeps breathing.

The fire around the bend holds its heat.

When, over the hill, a tree trunk takes
a dog-head shape visible, your legs stop
before you do. You think you have folded up
on your bed, but you have gone out, into the shadows.