Winter 2004

Linda Jenkins


This marks an author's first online publication Linda Jenkins lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter. She was a 2002 "Discovery"/The Nation award winner. Recent poems have appeared in Flyway and Pleiades. Others are forthcoming in Poet Lore, 32 Poems, and The Greensboro Review.
The Heart's Pitter-Patter    

I.  April 7, 1995:  Okay!  I mean, yes!  

His upper back bled.  
The man with the electric needle paused over Alaska.
The tissue dabbed.  Such color, she thought.  
Vermont: billiards hustler's felt.  
New York: boiled yolk.  Kentucky: chicory.  Idaho: iodine.  
Nevada: grape soda.  She sipped hers.
He tensed all the muscles in his face.
Ouch, she mouthed.  
Months, he had been coming here for her.
Now, Hawaii flickered with every prick.    
Pink as raw chicken breasts,
a banner unfurled off the coasts of America.
Her name and FOREVER trekked across in black.  
The man with the electric needle said, Let me get my camera.
Her husband-to-be looked over his shoulder. He pointed.  
See that word? It's how long I will curse you
if you leave me now.

II.  November 7, 1805:  Ocian in view!  O!  the joy     

Instead, Gray's Bay greets them.
For eleven days afterwards, the northwest vault of heaven
plots to prevent culmination—the Pacific just beyond
the bays' cavalry of whitecaps, its battering rams
of drifting pine and spruce.  In Clark's journal, complaints collect,
quilled specimens of wretchedness:  
canoes roll and toss until men green and heave;
at high tide, the camp floods;
leather rots—robes for bedding, shirts off backs;
dried fish stores plump and stink;
every man as wet as water
could make them, but still, they spark,
, to see the ocean.  
                                             By the nineteenth,
a dead sturgeon—ten feet long—peels its scales;
the backbone of a whale revels in its foundering;
Chinook men boast pistols and sailors' jackets;
J. Bowman, reads a tattoo, inky praise on a girl's left arm.




Linda Jenkins: Poetry
Copyright © 2004 The Cortland Review Issue 25The Cortland Review