Issue > Poetry
Mimi White

Mimi White

Mimi White's The Last Island(Deebrook Editions) won the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Poetry. She is currently collaborating with Australian visual artists Kerryn Forster and Jessie Stanley where they are each exploring the word contain. To that end, Mimi is working on a year long project devoted to the Japanese tanka.

Love Looks Out

     There are openings in our lives of which we know nothing"

                                                                                    —Jane Hirshfield

A house on the harbor with every window dark
One where a lamp is sun and moon
The sea rushing the breakwater
Pebbles sloughing the thinnest rime of salt
Till what is held in the mind
Is circular, surrendering, ambered; a bee's wing
Suspended in yellow light
If a car had not been parked in the crushed shell drive
If the rail of the bed had not caught my eye
There are openings in our hearts
Of which we know nothing
A tune played all day in my head
Until the first words came


If I had all the time in the world
I would lie on this hammock and listen to birds.
Every day I would record their songs,
sketch their shapes against the creamy fog
and pay no attention to the cough, the bomb,
the black and white silhouette of homes
with or without sun. The bird flies
through memory, in and out of broken windows.
Now and then it balances on a shattered sill
catching its beak and eye, its mortal reflection,
and then the singing, oh the singing.


Rain fell lightly on the Androscoggin,
on a Sunday painted with dark clouds and a white church.
My friend from Alabama was preaching

about loss, faith, too, and the resurrection.
I saw through wavy windows cows grazing in an open pasture
while two valleys over rain fell on the Androscoggin.

I knew the story of the Jews and blessed my friend for talking
about my people, but Jesus rising from the dead was a stretch
though I listened to my friend from Alabama preaching,

listened hard. Then she spoke of grieving
for her friend and I listened and her loss touched
me lightly as the rain falling on the Androscoggin.

And then my father's coffin was lowering,
and Job's emptiness was within reach
the day my friend from Alabama was preaching

about loss. The river had a sadness, too, as I went wading,
casting for evening. I let the waters teach
me the songs of the Androscoggin,
another way of talking, like preaching.


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