A Crown for Meghan

by John Poch

As if God’s future thundered on my past.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Our eleventh year—you change and haven’t changed.
We multiply. You gave me a daughter, twice,
and we mature, familiar and strange.
Remember that premarital advice

your aunt and uncle gave us when we asked?
Have fun, a sense of humor. Be flexible.
Watching you make the bed, I crane to catch
your moves and make myself the spectacle.

Do I pin you down, or up, or misconstrue
when I lift from Hawthorne, Ovid, Homer? I poach
the heart that fed the courtiers: Miss Blue,
My Windblown Dove, my Flame in Flames. You approach,

seem tame, but vanish among two streams. The stealth.
Amanuensis, I call you Mine Own Self.


Amanuensis, I call you Mine Own Self
and see my odd reflection in the gems
I polish. Pity me, who cannot help
a crown besmeared with prints despite attempts

to keep my hand away. I fly to craft
when I should kiss your subtle feet. Pardon
the art, the work I think I do, and laugh
at me, the old class clown from kindergarten.

By now you know by heart, O quick apprentice,
my act, my audience. At the kitchen sink
you stand there washing vegetables, a tempest
in your hands and in your hair the stars. Your ink-

blue, lawless eyes draw me. Sweet drink, command
this desert wanderer who wants your hand.


—Draw me. We will run after Thee.
The desert wanderers who wanted your hand,
those brawling, coarse slang-mongers…poets past
and present missing you, bring gifts like a band
of suitors wealthiest with want. At last,

my brother-measurers who toil to make
you swoon would better offer up white rice.
Because they long to honor you, let them take
as recompense our rose-strewn cake, a slice.

Those smilers cannot look into the sun
without a screen. I’d rather be blinded
and let you lead me by the hand, undone
like an exiled man who loses life to find it,

while the minor, major, and the jealous wonder.
Other people are the world’s width asunder.


Other people are the world’s width asunder.
We practice love the God of nature taught us,
and put the other first, above, both under-
standing at last that I’m your Deodatus,

studied in the Song of Songs and Texas,
the right hand here, the left beneath your head,
my thirsty kisses circling like a necklace
to your doves of eyes, your fawns on lilies fed.

Nobody ever had a wife but me.
And nobody a husband save my Dove.
Fall on my eyes, wildflower of purity,
Cosmos. Now help me understand how Love

has her own omniscient form which I pretend.
To gain the wind’s perspective, I ascend.

V. Away

To gain the wind’s perspective, I ascend
to the topmast of a salt ship, would rather leap
and break my neck than write as if an end
of you existed. It seems as if a sheet

of paper might be the veil dividing us,
a sail, my ordinary life head-long,
so perfectly untrammeled as it is.
Why rhyme, or measure black, white, weak and strong?

The treeless, fierce-sunshining, irksome lanes
of the plains like oceans break my aspirations. Where
are those tender anxieties, when you leaned
on my arm and needed its superfluous care?

I’d come down from this rigging’s highest rung
if I could know your name in every tongue.


If I could know your name in every tongue,
I might be satisfied, hushed, stillness ours.
Have not the moments of our marriage sung
in those substantial and most silent hours?

In Heaven there will be no metric nonsense,
labored and artificial, no pronouns minced.
We are already one another’s conscience.
Your verb’s auxiliary, I am convinced

it’s happiness to need you, equally
pervading presence and an absence. Possessed
by your name’s rise and fall, the quality
which is and is not you, I’ll weave a nest:

a natural crown for you to dwell on, proud
mockingbird, my poetry aloud.


Mockingbird, my poetry aloud
in your voice sounds me, like me, and the chaste
Penelope, the queen of a theft allowed
and more dear mirror, most at home. Chased

and caught by no one else, thou, unforgettablest
pedestaled, understood, the very sight
of wilderness, change me, beloved blessed
with vehement and faithful love. Kiss, cite

these precious next two words: I’m home.
I traveled to return. Here, lie down, rest.
I’ll make the bed next time. Our home
is shipshape, hungry for a mess. The rest?

You’re my couplet met, familiar love still strange
in our eleventh year. You change but have not changed.

JOHN POCH’s fifth book, Texases, was published last year by WordFarm.  His poems have appeared in Paris Review, Poetry, The Nation, The New Republic, and other magazines. He teaches at Texas Tech University. You can find him on Twitter at @jpoch