Issue > Poetry
Rebecca Foust

Rebecca Foust

Rebecca Foust has published five books of poetry, most recently Paradise Drive, reviewed in venues including the Times Literary Supplement. Her poems, essays, short stories, and book reviews appear widely. Recognitions include the James Hearst Poetry Prize, American Literary Review Prize for Fiction, fellowships from MacDowell, Sewanee, and the Frost Place, and appointment as Marin County Poet Laureate.

Parts of Speech

We came to a grove and you drew me in;
I wondered about our right to wander
where we would in that wood of old pine,
my hand in yours and yours in mine.
Fair was the raiment of cloud overhead.
Or it was not fair, or it was just
beginning to clear. In truth all I saw
was your face and the white-capped cove,
and the old boat we dragged in to shore.
In truth, there was no grove, no cove,
no clouds, no scow—the only nouns
being voice, face and hands—or, the pine
and the wood were just active and aching
verbs. Or, that is all I remember now.

Let Deer

                    —for my uncle

These mountains look like your mountains, bare-tree blurred,
valleys quilted in tussock and shadow

in a world I no longer know. I smell the dark soil and leaf meal
that tomorrow will receive you

five hundred miles north of here, the white clapboard church
with its ceiling of gold stars

picked out against navy-blue sky and the redbud outside
swelled like an inflamed wound.

Let it be a day like today, sky-rinsed, the mountains sounding
their low, purple chord. Let owls call

after the author of midnight, and trout arc silver over the river.
Let deer come at dusk to the salt block

you set out last fall. Let someone be willing to want your things:
the twenty-three oil pastels of the Shawnee,

the stories and poems never sent off to Field & Stream. Let us
remember you as you were before

being swallowed by the bottle, a boy in the woods with a book
and a fly-rod in either hand.

Let it tip, your coffee can of bird points, slow sluice of quartz
back into the ground, and your old canoe

slip the knot you could never untie, break free, and float
like a great green kite, on down the Raystown.

Moose, Bear, and the Moon

                    —for Delle

The air somewhere between mist and fog so that any light swells, the moon's yellow smear in a sky tinseled with stars, the road curving away into dark writhed with trunks and fat vines. You telling me how we will see them—you look, then you unhook your eyes—driving back and forth seeing, then not-seeing, then only-seeing.

Conjured from air, hugeness: a moose and her calf, high shining haunches gone into the bog, then on our right, a bull looming up, crowned like a young god. Flashlight beams bouncing all over, you yelling, the light's in my eyes and oh shit, we almost hit, the moose plodding on his stolid vector vanished by branches and mist. Like Christmas and first communion, something holy and wholly new, and later I cannot sleep for the thrumming.

The next night at Sugar Hill Town Hall, violins vibrating the boards under my feet, boiling up to meet violins keening into my ears, the whole building a sounding board syrinx drinking in and piping out sound. Driving home—you look, then you unhook your eyes—a blur on the berm gleamed by our headlights, obsidian glint in fog-filtered moonlight, something rearing back to sit up like a dog. Buddha bear, John Cheever bear, cigar-store bear hewn from a rained-on charred log. Thus are we sometimes admitted back into the childhood mysteries, the abject wonder of the world.


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