However You Cut a Lime, a Star Appears

by Temple Cone

Buffalo surge over the plains at night like foam
At the edge of a wave. Nighthawks boom far above.
By dawn, the grass is scored from a thousand meteors.

St. Luke believed that true faith, like true healing,
Leaves a scar. The word is a cicatrix, torn into being,
The pain that knits itself into a shield against harm.

By now, Ishmael has grown tired of talk about archangels
And the whiteness of hell. Closing his eyes to the wind,
He dreams of a home far beyond the grieving waves.

To forget its past, the soul crosses Lethe before rebirth.
Each one of us was a prizefighter, barmaid, pope, and slave.
Come, take my hand, let’s cross this low stretch of river.

Whales don’t lament the vast latitudes they travel.
Their songs are no more about sorrow than bliss,
But are maps leading the singers across a dark trench.

It’s never clear if we’re going on a journey or into exile.
If there’s an end, it’s hidden as a wound beneath a scar.
If there’s an end, it’s endless as the plains we cross.

Temple Cone is an assistant professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the author of five chapbooks of poetry—Eurydice & Orpheus (Finishing Line, forthcoming), Radiolaria (Pudding House, 2007), Quandary Farm (Pudding House, 2007), A Father’s Story (Pudding House, 2007), and Considerations of Earth and Sky (Parallel Press, 2005)—and of two reference works on 20th-Century American poetry and on Walt Whitman. He has received a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Poetry and the John Lehman Award in Poetry from Wisconsin Academy Review, and was an Open Contest Winner in Best New Poets 2005. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife and daughter.