Sunday Aug 20

Soniat Katherine Soniat’s fifth collection of poetry, The Swing Girl, is forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press in 2011, and A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge, from Dream Horse Press in 2012. Earlier collections include A Shared Life, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize. New work is in recent issues of Image: Art, Faith, & Mystery, Iowa Review, Antioch Review, Hotel Amerika, and Mid-American Review. She teaches in the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville. Website: www.katherinesoniat.com
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Commerce



A heron stands on the tidal flats. Before it the Atlantic swells, and
before that the Earth spun round for ages, our galaxy curled in a spiral.
 
Feathery mosaics ripple on water. Birds wade the sunny side of the planet,
autumn blowing across Route 6. I walk the shore toward town, to the commerce
 
of tip your eyes up, or down, to the next passerby, while the season with a hungry
mouth never gets enough. Surf sucks seaweed from under a pier. Half empty is
 
half full, or so the tides imply. Then there's my reflection holding clouds in the sky.
Blank bluster of me at my feet in the shallows—a body fitted with legs and filled
 
with daily chatter. The pleasure of thinking it makes a whole hell of a difference,
these mindless gyrations of who's who, me first, and who cares about the homing

plight of birds.
Two dogs shake off sand then run up Pearl St. to the diner kitchen.
We plan in terms of destination, dream of polar opposites. The street vendor holds
 
the I'm-Worth-More-Money-Than-You Doll. She whines this when I pull her string.
On town square, her livelier versions wander about—gifts to carry home. Tinted
 
scarves, chocolates with the liquid centers. The pulse of I'll buy this one you that,
until the proper image is struck. Beer served under lights of cinnabar, driftwood
 
fires packaged to go with sundown. What flies off with the spirit each morning,
leaving faint lines in the sand?  I dreamt sleek loops in a fish-blue-surround
 
where the voice sang, deep calleth to deep, even to the dancing waterspout. And
there a house spun round like home again, blur of my old porch and windows.
 
Then down it fell into daybreak, into the off-season, heron asleep on one leg
in the marsh.
 
 


Octave
 

The orange cat and twenty plants
depended on her for water, and at dawn the cat
 
leaned against her ankle, plants to the window.
The pencil cactus tingled when read to from Sarton’s
 
Plant Dreaming Deep, down to its calligraphic roots.
At night the cat shrank to a smirk in the pinion pine,
 
and should that not be enough, the fern flew spores around
demanding more of itself. That house had twelve windows
 
and narrow stairs leading up to another level, flap in the door
for one hungry feline. Fur made breezy adjustments to each
 
flip of the flap. The plants shed and grew new while the cat’s
pumpkin eyes got rounder, life outside shifting from day
 
to night—or sometimes it vanished completely in floods,
only to surface again to fixate on the sun. A little like
 
Mendelssohn as he paced for months in gloom, then
headed precipitously into the octaves and stretch of
 
composing A Midsummer’s Night Dream.