Spring 2005

Terese Svoboda


Terese Svoboda Terese Svoboda's most recent book of poetry is Treason (Zoo Press, 2002). She has poems in the spring issues of Hotel Amerika and Paris Review.
Whale Watch    

               Big wheelers circle in the sand
to cut a perfect something  
          between flotsam and carwreck.

     The kids see only the size of the tires,
none look at the whales over their shoulders.

          We're climbing to where spouts evaporate
          into sky, we're clawing up lava-spilt sides
          like the dog to see.

Below is all
     perfect circles in the sand,
             and the discolored blue from mammals working.
                    The ocean's boundless, we think,
and the kids
can't even throw rocks far enough
to hit us. 
          But no.

                    The dog barks at the whales
instead of them, then he barks even harder�
at Jonah inside the whale
                              drawing Pinocchio

on undigested sand dollars,

               what can only be imagined.

Even here you have to turn your head
     to see all of one, you have to step back and not fall.

                    At last the teenagers get out of the trucks
          to puke.
               The kids elbow us to look.



My bike floats on a road
without a moon or light, all balance.

I open my mouth, O sole mio
but I fear I will fall

into my voice,  it could be
the road,  dippy and

suddenly ending.
So no sound comes out.

I just pedal, well, I breathe but�
A friend bikes out of the black.

I heard you and I hurried.
What did I sing? Our wheels

whine forward. We can't even see
the grass brushing our calves.

Soon the road narrows
and a creek cuts one side,

you can hear water
on its own path, and surely

there's a ditch�surely. We bike in file,
hunched, bearing the dark. If we slow�

A car comes up behind us,
lights off. We pedal hard, harder.

The car comes on anyway,
it is coming. Before its grill heat

signals where,
there's a terrible crash,

the late pop
of an airbag, there's the ditch

and the grass, we weave and�
There's no sound after, just a metal

something rolling.
We kickstand our bikes in the dark.

No O my god.  Just What?
What? my friend, gasping.

We run back.
Someone drove that car.

If we search for it apart, we're lost,
but together, we're doubly blind.

We touch and touch.
The sharp grass, the flitter of insects,

the uneven earth underfoot�
We want not to find

anything. It is the future
we move toward,  

and Death says
we will find it,

both of us, and the road      
we followed,

the road the car left,
is gone.



Terese Svoboda: Poetry
Copyright © 2005 The Cortland Review Issue 28The Cortland Review