by Rose McLarney

After the Civil War, painting the American West
was popular because it was not the setting

of either side’s tragedy. People wanted to look at scenes
free from the marks of our enemies

and selves. But what man has ever really lusted for
the untouched except in the briefest of moments before

he lays his own hands all over it? If unsettled surroundings
exemplify purity, they’re also empty.

Eastern architecture’s old walls, crowded and obstinate,
hold on to the curios of love, hold in the clutter of anger,

and collect many allegiances—
which have killed men, and made them feel they matter.

Isn’t the woman you really want she whose resentments
also require her to remember everything;

who, through her rages, keeps your history carefully
as fine china; and is confident of a future for fickleness

and the one with whom she has sided? She’ll spoil
a man, the same word used for what builders of houses do

to once wild landscapes they love too much to let alone.

ROSE McLARNEY has published two collections of poems, Its Day Being Gone (Penguin Books, 2014), a National Poetry Series winner, and The Always Broken Plates of Mountains(Four Way Books, 2012). She has been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and Warren Wilson College, and won the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ New Writing Award for Poetry and Alligator Juniper’s 2011 National Poetry Prize. Her work appears in The Kenyon Review, Orion, Slate, New England Review, and Missouri Review. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and is currently Assistant Professor of Poetry at Oklahoma State University.